Riot of colourful veggies bring a touch of spring to the table

Weekend Foodie: A gorgeous Vegetable Tart and Hot Cross Buns for Easter
Riot of colourful veggies bring a touch of spring to the table

TREAT: Di Curtin’s Vegetable Tart by can be served warm or cold and makes a super weekend lunch or early supper

WITH the clocks going forward very soon, the long days will soon be upon us.

We might not be quite there yet temperature wise, but the last few weeks have yielded some warmer sunshine to get us in the mood!

The lockdown is dragging on and the pandemic still rages, and to top it all, we are now in what’s called the Hunger Gap. That’s when there’s a lag in the availability of seasonal local vegetables, as our weather hasn’t allowed for much to be ready in the garden, other than hardy plants like kale, cabbage, parsnips and carrots, which see us through this time of year.

So this weekend, I’ve decided to pre-empt summer with a colourful vegetable based tart ,which is one of the favourites in my food file.

It looks super-impressive but is dead easy to make.

Ready-made puff pastry makes an informal open tart base, filled with cherry tomatoes, spinach, parsnip red onion and goat’s cheese, with cashew nuts for extra protein and crunch.

This is one you can eat outside if the weather permits, which will really make you feel summer has arrived! Serve warm or cold, with coleslaw and either a potato salad or some golden and spicy sweet potato chips. This makes a super weekend lunch or early supper dish.

With Easter fast approaching, it might be time to start baking the buns of the season! I’ve already indulged in my annual fix of Hot Cross Buns. I love them toasted and slathered in good cold Irish butter! What a treat with a cup of coffee in the mornings!

I’ve dug out this recipe for those who want to get ahead of themselves. Although be warned, one batch never lasts that long!

Flaky Open Veggie Tart

Ingredients (serves 4) 2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 500g block chilled ready made puff pastry 4 tbsp rustic tomato passata 1 cooked parsnip, in chunks 100g cherry tomatoes, halved 2 good handfuls baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 100g feta cheese, crumbled 1 tbsp cashew nut halves, roughly chopped 1 fresh free range egg, beaten, to glaze Method Heat oil in a pan and cook onions and garlic till softening. Remove from pan and leave to cool.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured board to about half an inch thick.

Cut a circle slightly larger than a dinner plate and transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Re-roll remaining pastry and freeze for another time.

Spread the tomato passata on the base of the pastry circle, leaving an inch border all round.

Mix reserved onion and garlic with remaining veggies in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Add feta cheese, reserve some pieces for the top.

Pile veggies onto the passata, making sure to leave the edge free.

Pull up edges of the pastry around and slightly over the filling to hold it in place, then pinch pastry all round between thumb and forefinger to crimp the edges.

Sprinkle the remaining feta cheese and cashews on top.

Glaze the pastry with beaten egg.

Bake in pre-heated oven Gas 5, 375F 190C for 20 minutes or until pastry is risen, golden and crisp and the filling is heated through.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients (makes 12) 275mls milk 500g malted strong bread flour or white strong bread flour Good pinch of salt 50g butter, in cubes 2 tsp mixed spice Grating of fresh nutmeg 50g caster sugar 7g sachet fast acting yeast 50g sultanas 50g candied mixed peel Finely grated zest of a lemon 1 medium free range egg, beaten For the topping:

2 tbsp plain flour Water to mix 2 tbsp golden syrup Squeeze lemon juice Method Heat the milk to just under boiling then leave to cool to tepid.

Place flour and salt, in a mixing bowl or use a food mixer with a dough hook.

Rub in the butter to resemble breadcrumbs.

Add spices, sugar, yeast, fruit, peel and lemon zest, stir to combine evenly.

Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg with a little of the tepid milk. Start to bring the flour into the liquid to make the dough.

Gradually add remaining milk, bringing mix together to form a soft dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for ten minutes or until the dough is stretchy and elastic and bounces back when you poke it.

Place in a lightly greased and floured warm bowl and cover with a tea towel.

Leave in a warm place for about an hour or until risen to double in size.

Turn out onto a floured board and knock back lightly.

Divide into twelve equal portions and roll into balls.

Place balls on a parchment lined baking tray and flatten the tops lightly.

Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise again for about 40 minutes or until double in size.

While the buns are rising, make a thick paste with remaining flour and water and place in a piping bag with small nozzle.

When the buns are ready to bake, pipe crosses on top. Place in a pre-heated oven Gas 6 400F 200C for about 20 minutes or until golden and they sound slightly hollow when the bases are tapped.

Before the buns come out of the oven, gently heat the golden syrup with the lemon juice.

Brush the glaze over the hot buns straight from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Split and serve with butter.

Wine option

BRINGING summer into the glass, I’m going for a lively and fruity Beaujolais Villages from the famous and long-standing George DeBouef winery in this famous region of France.

Beaujolais Villages is made from a selection of grapes from all the villages of this appellation, which grows the Gamay grape specifically for Beaujolais wines. So you’ll get a lovely blend of soft fruit here, almost jammy and damson like, but with a little edge of acidity too. This is an aged vintage so it will have some depth of flavour as well.

Beaujolais village can be drunk at room temperature or given 20 minutes in the door of the fridge to bring a little chill to proceedings. This gives that fruit a clean crisp edge.

Either way you serve it, it will work very well with the sweet caramelised flavours of the tart and the salty savoury Feta cheese.

Find it a Supervalu stores now, on offer till April 14. Down from its usual €12.99 to €11, just in time for Easter drinking.

RECEIPT

RECEIPT Vegetable Tart Puff pastry 500g block €2.67 Red Onions 750g net, 67c Cherry Tomatoes punnet, €1 Parsnip 500g tray, 99c Spinach 250g pack, €1.09 Feta Cheese 200g, €1.29 Cashew nuts 150g, €1.79 Total: €9.50 Hot Cross Buns Strong Bread Flour, €3.25 (2kg) Sultanas, €2.15 (250g) Mixed Peel, €1.95 (tub) Fast Acting Yeast, €2.99 (pack) Total: €10.34 GRAND TOTAL: €19.84


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