I am usually not a great fan of overtly cheesy recipes. However, this cheesy leek tart got a ten out of ten from the sous chef. 😃 It was a last hurrah to the humble leek – the staple of the winter vegetable garden.
Crucial to its success is cutting the vegetables – wafer thin – which is easier in a food processor – you can also make the dough in the same bowl. Alternatively, use a mandolin, and make the shortcrust dough by hand. Equally easy and very satisfying.
Cheesy Leek Filling
You need a total of 450g of vegetables. Two-thirds are leeks, plus a small onion, three garlic cloves, three spring onions, one banana chilli and a tomato-sized piece of celeriac. Replace the celeriac with another onion/more leek if that is easier. It will seem a lot, but it reduces and fits perfectly into a 28cm tart tin.
Put everything through the food processor on the finest blade and then slowly saute all the vegetables in butter with a dash of olive oil. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper, salt, and two teaspoons of za’atar. When the veg is golden, translucent and soft – turn off the heat and stir in the lemon rind and grated cheese.
This recipe is meant to be adaptable; for the final version, I used a mixture of grated red and white/yellow cheddar because it was in the fridge! Gruyere is a classic combination and is particularly delicious, or opt for crumbled goat or blue cheese.
Meanwhile, as the vegetables cook, make the dough.
Change the blade and whizz the flour, salt and butter into fine breadcrumbs and then whisk two egg yolks with a tablespoon of iced water. You may need to add a little water; you want the dough to ‘just’ bind together, don’t overwork it. Remove it from the mixer and form into a ball, flatten it into a disk and wrap it in clingfilm. If you make the pastry by hand, sift the salt and flour into a large bowl and rub in the cubed cold butter until you have fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks, and using a cold knife, stir until the dough binds together. Form a round disk shape and leave it to rest in the fridge.
Blind bake the pastry shell for a good 10 minutes, fill it with the veg mixture, and pour over the creamy egg filling. Use a fork to press the filling into the vegetables and sprinkle with a handful of grated cheese. Cook for a further 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving. Mine was perfectly cooked after 25 minutes, but if you are worried, turn off the oven and put the tart on the oven floor for another 4-5 minutes to ensure it’s not soggy.
Serve your leek tart warm, garnished with chopped chives and a mixed leaf salad – spruced up with apples and walnuts and covered in a classic mustardy Dijon vinaigrette.
Cheesy Leek Tart
- 28cm loose bottom tart tin
- 1 large heavy based pan to cook the vegetables
Tart Filling – 450g Finely Sliced Vegetables
- 340 g leeks – approx three large leeks
- 1 small onion
- 1 banana chilli optional
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 spring onions
- 1 tomato-sized piece of celeriac optional – replace with more leeks or onion
- 2 tsp Za'atar
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp lemon zest optional
- 40 g butter plus a dash of olive oil to saute the veg
- 150 g grated cheese – Cheddar, Gruyere or crumbled goat or blue cheese. Plus, extra cheese for the topping
- 1 small bunch chopped chives – to garnish optional
- 200 ml cream
- 3 large eggs
- generous pinch salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 260 g all-purpose flour
- 135 g cold butter cut into cubes
- 2 egg yolks in a tablespoon of iced water – whisked together
- Finely slice all the vegetables in a food processor or with a mandolin. In a large heavy-based pan and over low heat, add the butter and a dash of oil; when it starts to bubble, add the vegetables. Add the freshly ground black pepper and Za'atar. The veg should have plenty of room to cook gently, turning golden without becoming soggy or burned. While the veg is cooking, make the shortcrust pastry.
- Once the vegetables are soft, golden and translucent – this may take 20-25 minutes – turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest and 150g of grated/crumbled cheese.
- Whisk together the cream, eggs, black pepper and a generous pinch of salt.
- Whizz together the salt, butter and flour until you have fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and iced water mixture and mix until it 'just' binds together. Pull it together into a ball and flatten it into a disk shape. Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ and finish preparing the vegetables.
Assembling the Tart
- Roll out the pastry, prick the base with a fork and bake blind, on the middle shelf, for 10 minutes.
- Fill the semi-baked tart shell with the vegetables and pour over the cream mixture, pressing down with a fork to ensure the cream is evenly distributed. Top with a handful of extra cheese.
- Bake for 25-30(*see notes) minutes or until golden brown.
- Leave to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving warm with mixed leaf salad – perhaps with apples and walnuts added and dressed with a classic mustardy Dijon vinaigrette.