This is a very simple tart that is great eaten either hot or cold and is, for me, tart that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, although it is one of my “go to” summer bakes. It can be assembled in minutes so that is is merely a matter of baking the tart.
Puff pastry, topped with goats’ cheese and beetroot, with a few walnuts, baked until the pastry is crispy and the cheese has melted….delicious!
This tart even easier using bought pastry, but if you are buying the pastry, try to go for the all-butter variety: the cheaper puff pastry made with oil is not that good.
A good pastry makes all the difference!
I am such a fan of flavoured pastry and I often add dry flavours such as spices and herbs to my pastries. So for this tart I made a very quick walnut and mustard-flavoured pastry using grated frozen butter, taking about 20 minutes to make up.
If you have been daunted by pastry, let alone puff pastry, I urge you to try this very simple version.
The pastry follows the rough-puff pastry/puff pastry approach for getting the layers in there but is quicker, and it works like a dream with this tart. It is basically my version of Delia Smith’s short-cut puff pastry (from her classic Complete Cookery Course) but I incorporate a few turns to get layers.
I appreciate that beetroot is not to everyone’s tastes but I adore it either roasted or simmered until just soft. And I actually like it mixed with a splash of good vinegar when eaten with a salad: and by good vinegar I mean wine vinegar, cider vinegar or baslamic vineger, but most definitely not the murderous intentions of malt vinegar!
The earthy, slightly sweet flavour of the beetroot, especially when mixed with a little balsamic vinegar, goes so well with the goats’ cheese and the slightly bitter crunchy walnuts are quite wonderful: little wonder these ingredients are such good bedfellows!
This tart also works brilliantly with ready cooked beetroot from the supermarket: the ones that have simply been boiled and vacuum-packed rather than the beetroot that is swimming in the dreaded malt vinegar!
Recipe: beetroot, walnut and goats’ cheese tart – serves 6
Easy walnut “puff” pastry: (or use about 500g bought all-butter puff pastry)
- 250g strong white plain flour
- 4 teaspoons mustard powder (or fennel powder or a mixture!)
- 40g walnuts, crushed to a fine powder
- 5g fine salt
- 170g unsalted butter, frozen solid
- about 140-160ml cold water
- a couple of cooked medium beetroots, peeled and either cubed or thinly sliced: about 250g for a large tart
- 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus extra to finish
- generous grinding of salt and pepper
- about 150g goats’ cheese or mascarpone/cream cheese
- small handful walnuts, roughly crushed
- 1 red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- a handful of cheese such as Parmesan, Cheddar, Brie…in rough chunks or grated if a hard cheese
- a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil
- freshly milled black pepper
Oven temperature: 190C (fan)
If making the pastry:
(1) Mix the flour, salt, walnuts and mustard powder in a medium-sized bowl. Grate the frozen butter over, dipping in the flour from time to time. Mix the grated butter into the flour with a knife so the butter is fairly evenly distributed.
(2) Add about 120ml of the water, stirring gently with the knife. Add more to give a soft but not sticky dough.
(3) Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out to a long, thin rectangle: about 50cm by 20cm, but you don’t need to be too precise here.
(4) Fold the bottom third into the middle and bring the top third over the centre. This is the first turn. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat two more times. The pastry is now made. Chill until needed.
The images below shows how to do this: the dough in the pictures is for a rough-puff pastry (using larger lumps of butter in the dough rather than grated butter) but the principle for the folding is the same.
Prepare the topping:
(1) Roll out the pastry thinly to a long rectangle and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof.
(2) Use a sharp knife about 1cm from the edges, mark out a border. Don’t cut right through the pastry: only go a little way into it. As it bakes the border rises up more than the centre with the filling, creating a shallow wall all the way round, but the tart still works well without a border.
NB: for smaller, individual tarts, cut out the rectangle into squares or circles
(3) Mix the goats’ cheese with salt and pepper to season. Scatter or even spread the goats’ cheese over the pastry, coming just within the edges. Scatter over the walnuts.
(4) Mix the beetroot with the balsamic vinegar and scatter loosely over the onions. Alternatively, if using sliced beetroot arrange in overlapping pattern to give a nice effect.
(5) Scatter the remaining cheese over the top and give a generous grinding of black pepper.
(6) Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry edges are golden brown. You can brush the pastry border with beaten egg for a more golden sheen to the tart if you prefer.
(7) Cool for about 5 minutes before serving, drizzling over some more balsamic vinegar.