Thursday, June 11, 2009

Artichoke, asparagus, tomato and onion tart

Serves 6

A little fiddly and complex, but should you be in the mood for it, this has got to be a blow you away starter for entertaining at home this weekend. Take the time to make everything way in advance, leaving only the quail eggs to cook and the finishing assembly part to do at the last minute.

Onion purée
6 onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 tblsp single cream

Tart
500g puff pastry
150g asparagus tips
12 quail eggs
150g ready-cooked artichoke hearts, cut into wedges
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
Small handful of chives, chopped
3-4 tblsp vinaigrette
Few rocket leaves, to garnish
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200°c/gas mark 6.

To make the onion purée, heat a little olive oil in a pan, add the onions and season well. Cover and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the onions are very soft.

Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out six discs, using a saucer as a guide. Place the pastry rounds on a large baking sheet and prick all over with a skewer. Place another heavy baking sheet on top of the pastry discs to weigh them down. Bake for 15 minutes until brown and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Add the cream to the onions and bring to a simmer. Tip the mixture into a blender or food processor and whiz to a fine paste and leave to cool.

Blanch the asparagus tips in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes until tender and refresh in a bowl of iced water, drain and tip into a large bowl. Carefully fry the quail eggs in some hot oil - the white should be set but the yolk should still be runny. Rest on kitchen paper once they’re cooked to absorb any excess fat.

Add the artichokes, tomatoes, red onion and chives to the asparagus, drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to mix.

Spoon a little onion purée over the centre of the pastry discs and pile the vegetables on top, arrange the quail eggs over the vegetables. Scatter a few rocket leaves on top, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and serve with much pride