Cooking is a continuous learning process and one thing I’ve learned over the years is that the freezer can be a powerful ally in the kitchen: not only for already made dishes and ice cream, but for stashing and preserving ingredients like stock, vegetables, nuts – you name it.
With some rye pastry in my freezer – I made the entire recipe, divided in half and froze each individually, first well wrapped in plastic, then in foil – I decided to bake a tart for lunch and then started thinking about the filling. I almost made the leek and cheese tart once again – it tasted so good! – but then I saw Dale Pinnock’s beetroot and goats cheese tart and fell in love with it.
My mom loved beets and I ate them quite regularly as a kid, but always boiled or raw. As an adult, once I roasted beets for the first time there was no turning back – I’ve never boiled beets again and don’t intend to: when roasted, their flavor becomes stronger and the texture is less watery. Just delicious.
This is my twist on the recipe, using roasted beets instead of boiled ones and homemade rye pastry instead of puff pastry: it tasted great and I thought it looked beautiful, too, don’t you? ;)
Beetroot, red onion and feta tart with rye pastry
adapted from two great sources: The Medicinal Chef: Eat Your Way to Better Health and Love, Bake, Nourish: Healthier cakes and desserts full of fruit and flavor
½ recipe rye pastry
5 small beetroots
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ tablespoons honey
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
100g feta cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Place the beetroots in a large piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Close the foil, transfer to a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the beets are soft when pierced with a knife. Cool enough to handle, then peel off the beets (the ones I used were organic, so I did not bother with a bit of skin left on them). Cool completely, then cut into slices.
Heat a little olive oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until softened. Season with salt and pepper, add the honey and thyme and continue to cook until the onion takes on a caramelized appearance. Cool.
When ready to make the tart, place the dough onto large piece of baking paper and roll into a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Transfer to a baking sheet.
Arrange the red onion on the center of the pastry, top with the beets and crumble over the feta. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, then fold one edge in towards the center of the filling and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the filling. Place the sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Brush the tart with the egg wash (only the pastry). Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Top with fresh thyme leaves to serve. The tart is delicious both warm and at room temperature.