Would you call yourself a foodie?
I know some people hate that word, and it’s true that it sometimes has negative connotations – used to describe the sort of person who turns their nose up at anything short of champagne and truffles – but personally, I think it just means someone who loves food. And using that definition, I am definitely a foodie.
These smoked cheese, walnut and broccoli tarts are only about 4 inches across, so they make a great starter – or you can add a few side dishes to make a full meal. They’re stuffed with garlicky leeks, broccoli and walnuts, and they’re topped with smoked cheddar cheese – absolutely delicious.
I’ve had these little metal pie dishes for a while now, and I’ve finally got around to using them. If you don’t have any, I’d really recommend getting some (turns out I’m now a kitchen equipment pusher…). They’re easy to use, and the metal edge helps to cut the pastry in just the right place – lining them with pastry is a breeze. Make sure you blind bake them for ten or fifteen minutes before you trim the edges of the pastry, as the it does shrink a bit when it starts to cook.
Walnuts might seem like an unusual addition to these tarts, but as they bake they lose their intense crunch, but still have a bit of bite to them, which goes really well with the soft vegetables. Don’t skip them!
Smoked cheddar, walnut and broccoli tarts
- Flour for dusting
- 200 g shortcrust pastry (enough to make 4 squares measuring ~ 6 inches)
- Spray oil
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 leek, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced
- 1/4 head broccoli, cut into very small florets
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tbsp walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 4 tbsp smoked cheddar cheese, grated
- Black pepper
- Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
- On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until it's very thin (even if it's pre-rolled). Cut into four squares measuring around 6 inches. Lightly spray four mini pie dishes with oil (mine measured around 4 inches in diameter), and lay a square of pastry over each. Lifting the edges of the pastry, gently push it into each pie dish with a knuckle, being sure to push the pastry right into the corners. Trim off any large amounts of excess pastry (I find it easiest to use a pair of scissors), leaving around a centimetre excess around the edges of the pie dishes to allow for the pastry shrinking.
- Prick the pastry a few times with a fork, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until just starting to firm up.
- While the pastry is baking, heat the oil in a pan, and add the sliced leek and small florets of broccoli. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant, then add the garlic. Cook for a few more minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- When the pastry cases are ready, trim the excess pastry from around the edge with a sharp knife (rest it along the edge of the tin and it should be easy). Add the leek and broccoli mixture to the four pastry cases, and pour over the beaten egg. Scatter over the roughly chopped walnuts, and top with the grated smoked cheddar and a little black pepper.
- Return to the oven for a further 40 minutes or so, until the cheese is golden brown and the egg has set.
Note: nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.