This is an unapologetically rustic tart: the balance between the earthiness of the beetroot, the tang of the goats’ cheese and the sweet-sharpness of the caramelised shallots is fantastic; even friends of mine who claim not to like either beetroot or goats’ cheese (and shame on them!) polish off this tart quite easily!
The balsamic drizzled over is, I think, essential although I often boil a few tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar in a small pan until just going syrupy and use this.
Served warm, all this tart needs is a spoonful of the horseradish crème fraîche and a crisp green salad.
A well-flavoured pastry
It is so important that a pastry for a pie or a tart tastes excellent and it is not enough for it to be just a vehicle for the filling! I have opted for a walnut pastry here; it crumbles effortlessly and melts in the mouth, giving a subtle walnut flavour, without dominating. This pastry handles beautifully as long as you leave it to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling out, although an hour is better.
Mixing up the beetroots
I like to use a mixture of red beetroots and golden yellow beetroots in this tart and have also used baby beetroot, left whole. However, use any you can get. You can also replace the shallots with onions (white or red).
This particular tart doesn’t need an egg filling as the onions and the crème fraîche provide just enough moisture, but you could have a set tart by whisking a whole egg and an egg yolk into the crème fraîche and lightly folding the onions and beetroot through it.
Beetroot, caramelised shallot & goat’s cheese tarts with walnut pastry
Makes one large tart 8″ deep, serves 6-8 generously
- 150g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 50g walnuts, finely ground
- 40g unsalted butter
- 35g lard
- 10-12 large shallots, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
- knob of butter plus tablespoon olive oil
- leaves from 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon demerera sugar
- salt and pepper
For the beetroot filling:
- 4 large beetroot or 10-12 smaller beetroot
- 200g goats’ cheese
- 300ml crème fraîche mixed with 2 tablespoons ceamed horseradish
- a small handful of roughly crushed walnuts, lightly toasted
- salt and pepper
- splash of balsamic vinegar or balsamic syrup
(1) Roast the beetroot in an oven preheated to 170C(fan) with their skins on for between one and two hours, depending on the size. When cool, peel and chop them into smallish chunks and season with a little fine sea salt.
(2) Make the pastry: mix the flour, salt, mustard powder and walnuts together and rub in the butte and lard. Add enough water to form a soft dough. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
(3) Roll out the pastry and use it to line the tart tin. Rest for about 30 more minutes before pricking with a fork, placing over greaseproof paper and filling with baking beans or rice. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C (fan) for 15 minutes, before turning down the oven to 150C. removing the greaseproof and baking beans and baking for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry has cooked.
(4) Cook the shallots, thyme, butter and oil for about 20 mins, adding a little water if it goes too dry. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar and cook gently for about 15 more minutes until softened and a little syrupy. You don’t want it too dry, though, so if it goes too far, add a little more vinegar: the flavours can take it!
(5) Place a few tablespoons of horseradish crème fraîche in the bottom of the pastry case. Mix the onions with beetroot and top with the beetroot and onions. Place slices of goats’ cheese over the top.
(6) Splash a little balsamic vinegar over the cheese and bake 190C for about 20 minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Add another splash of balsamic vinegar over just before serving, with the rest of the horseradish crème fraîche on the side.