I have a confession: I love beetroot. I steam them whole, peel them and eat them like an apple. I love them raw, grated or chopped into a salad. I love them hot, cold, salted, honeyed, mashed, sliced, boiled, grilled, red, golden, candy striped and even pickled in a summer salad. My Mr P, though, as wonderful as he is, is no big fan of the beet. Thus, in my sneaky, sly way, I have to disguise them as something other than a beet-plucked-from-the-ground if I’m going to get (a) him to eat them and thereby (b) have them for my own dinner too.
We had friends over for dinner last night, an occasion that happens far too infrequently in my opinion, and I found out that one of the guests has a slight aversion to beets as well. Digging deeper I found that the reason for this is because he thinks back on beets as the dish served with coleslaw in dodgy take away restaurants. Now, is that a challenge or what? How could I not try to win over two people with one tart? It’s so much better on the beet side of life. Oh my, well personally I loved this tart. I have no idea if the other oh-my-gosh’s were genuine or subtly faked, but I didn’t really care. The crust was thin and super crisp and the fennel and caraway popped up now and then to mingle with the stronger cheese and beet flavours. The walnuts warmed the whole thing up in the mouth and I think this is one to make again, serve hot, cold or maybe ,because the crust is so light, on a baguette the next day.
The pastry is made with oil, not butter, so has a great, light flavour. I’ve been wanting to make an oil pastry for a while now. They’re all the rage, don’t you know. I’ve yet to try a sweet one.
*the trick with this rather crumbly pastry is to roll it out on one of those thin, flexible, plastic surface protectors (or a well held down piece of parchment) and then put the pie dish upside down on the rolled pastry, flip and voila.
Beetroot, Bluecheese and Walnut Tart
for the pastry:
⅓ cup quinoa flour
⅔ cup plain white flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
½ tsp caraway seeds, also crushed
⅓ cup walnut oil
1 egg white
4 medium beets
1 large red onion
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or veg oil)
80 g blue cheese (I used Bleu d’Auverne)
⅓ cup walnuts, coursely chopped
Make the pastry:
– combine all the dry ingredients and blend well
– add oil and egg white and mix until a dough just forms.
– wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for a half hour
– pre heat oven to 350˚ F ; roll out (on a loose board, see note above recipe) and line a 9″ tart tin
– cover with parchment, fill with beans or rice and blind bake at 350˚ F for 15 mins. Let cool.
Make the filling:
– steam the beets for about 20 mins. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and slice thinly
– peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat oil on a medium to low heat and saute the onion gently until soft and caramelised ; about 20 – 30 mins ; allow to cool a bit
– spread onion over base of tart ; dot with bits of cheese ; arrange beets on top ; add remaining cheese and walnuts
– bake for 20 mins at 350˚F