This is probably the easiest tart I’ve ever made. I say so with confidence because I was under pressure to have lunch ready with a husband breathing down my neck.
Ro has this habit of heading to work late, especially if he has an early morning conf call to take which he does from home. It would invariably be on a day I don’t work, which means by the time I wake up at around 9-ish and settle down with coffee and emails and such, Ro is well into his day. He usually heads into work around lunch time and catches lunch there, but last week he apparently changed his mind and asked me ‘what are we having for lunch?’ at 11.30 that too. I stared at him, then I stared at the contents of my fridge and seeing the ingredients for this tart, my eyes lit up. They were supposed to be dinner, but that was about 7 hrs away and I had enough time to figure it out. Warned him it would take an hour and he agreed. And there, the easiest tart I’ve ever made came into existence.
Photo courtesy: Daniel Jones Photography for Comte Cheese
I attended a Comte Cheese tasting event beginning of last month at La Cave a Fromage. It was a fun evening with Comte cheese expert Claire Perrot giving us in depth knowledge about the complex flavours that Comte is all about. We then went on to taste Comte cheese from different terrains and ages and were asked to figure out how they tasted different, what flavours were persistent etc. I’m no expert at cheese, but the flavours i could get were so obvious, I was quite surprised myself. What amazed me the most was how a slab of cheese smelt completely different from a cut piece and how certain wine and champagne simply made eating cheese a pleasure. One of the pairings with Comte cheese was vanilla paste and I loved how they tasted together. Came back home with a goody bag and a huge slab of Comte cheese to experiment…and experiment did I.
This tart recipe is made using Comte cheese and I must say it tasted fab (don’t forget how easy it was make the tart). I think this is going to be the base recipe for all my tarts and I can just play around with the fillings used. The original recipe used a polenta tart base, but remember husband breathing down neck? So short crust pastry it was!
Recipe adapted from the Comte cheese recipe card (makes 5 to 6 tartlets or one 24cm tart)
Spinach- 200 gms
Comte cheese- 200 gms, grated
Crème fraiche- 150 ml
Single cream- 150 ml
Salt and pepper- to taste
Butter- to grease the tart tins
Short crust pastry- 1 slab/ roll
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease the tart tins with melted butter
Roll out the short crust pastry into a rectangle about 5mm thick and carefully lay it into the tart tin. I used mini tart tins so cut the pastry into 5 equal parts and then carefully laid it into the tins.
Place a greaseproof paper on top of the pastry case and fill with baking beans. I don’t have baking beans so used rice instead. Works fine.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until just golden.
Remove the paper and beans and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes to make sure the pastry is cooked through.
Remove from the oven and keep aside.
While the pastry is cooking, you can go about getting the filling ready.
Wash the spinach and roughly chop it up.
Squeeze most of the water from the spinach and cook covered in a microwave safe bowl on high for about 3 minutes.
Drain the water that has oozed out and keep aside to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, mix together the cheese, crème fraiche, cream and eggs in a large bowl.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Once the spinach has cooled down a bit, layer the bottom of the cooked tart shells with spinach and pour over the cheese mix.
Gently stir to evenly distribute the spinach.
Bake for about 20 minutes or till the tart is just set and golden. If a knife inserted comes out clean you are good to go.
Take the tart out and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before removing them from the tin.
Serve with a salad.
Notes: Original recipe called for Swiss chard. If using chard, then wash, chop and cook in a bit of olive oil till wilted.
You can make the same tart using puff pastry as well.. in fact I prefer that to short crust.
Of course Comte cheese can be replaced with cheddar or rather any cheese of choice.
Use double cream in place of creme fraiche
With thanks to Comte cheese for inviting me to the tasting event and for the sample.