This is so not what I had intended to make for dinner. I wanted to make spinach and ricotta gnocchi, but I still have no access to a stove. Actually, this morning there was a glorious hour in which my flat had no gas and no electricity, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. It seemed necessary to turn to pastry for comfort, and thus dinner. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, though! Those little things like adding thinly sliced raw onion rather than bigger pieces of cooked onion gave the tart colour and texture that I am now going to pretend was deliberate and intended from the start.
For the shortcrust pastry, I used this recipe from BBC good food. It’s lovely and simple and takes about 20 minutes. I’ve never really understood why people are scared to make pastry, because I’m really not a skilled cook but it’s always worked fine for me. Particularly shortcrust. But if you don’t have the time, use 300g ready made shortcrust. I don’t judge, it tastes the same.
300g shortcrust pastry
1 clove garlic, crushed
35g vegetarian parmesan, grated
a handful of basil, torn
200g spinach, washed
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
Time taken (excluding pastry) is about 20 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake.
Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Then roll out your pastry until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin, and fit it into a tart case. Line the pastry with greaseproof baking paper and pour baking beans over the top. (If you don’t have baking beans, rice or dried real beans work too.) Pop in the oven for 10 minutes.
Stage two: Fill and boil a kettle. Put all the spinach into a colander, and then pour the boiling water over the spinach so that it wilts. Then pour cold water over the spinach to cool it, stirring it around so that it all cools. Be careful with this bit, because you’re likely to get pockets of heat in the spinach. Squeeze the water out of the spinach as thoroughly as possible, otherwise you will have trouble getting your tart to set. If you like, chop it, which I would imagine will make your tart a lovely green colour. I don’t bother. I like big bits of spinach. This is also the stage when I grated the parmesan and sliced the onion. Slice the onion thinly, or you will end up crunching on big pieces of raw onion.
Stage three: It is now 10 minutes later. Take the tart crust out of the oven and carefully lift out the baking beans on the greaseproof paper. Try not to throw the hot beans everywhere. I’ve done that. It’s a hassle. Put the tart back into the oven for about 5 minutes more, or until the crust has gone a lovely golden colour.
Stage four: Meanwhile, take the spinach, cheese, garlic, eggs, basil and onion and put them in a bowl. Mix really well. I love the way the little bits of red onion look in this mix. Season to taste. When the crust is done, dollop this mixture into the crust and spread it around.
Stage five: Pop everything in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the mix is set. If I could do this again, I would serve it with some sliced tomatoes.