Zucchini, feta and mint tart

I know I’m getting old because my favorite moment of the week is no longer Friday night, it’s Tuesday morning. Instead of planning my outfit and cashing my paycheck for a big night out, my idea of fun now includes packing my re-useable shopping bags in my oversized purse, dropping the kids off at school and heading to my weekly neighborhood farmers’ market. I get as excited about spotting the first fresh peas at my favorite vendors’ stall as I used to get about a new drink menu at my favorite bar. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good night out as much as I used to, but it just doesn’t compare to the deep satisfaction I get from browsing the vegetable stalls, joking with the now-familiar vendors and bringing home bags full of inspiration for a week’s worth of meals.

This tart was born out of just that kind of market inspiration: these beautiful purple spring onions caught my eye immediately, and I smelled the fresh mint long before I spotted it next to the lettuces. I already had the feta and puff pastry in my refrigerator, so I built the tart in my head as I walked home, my shopping bags overflowing, a smile on my lips and a skip in my step. So you can keep your Friday nights, your clubs and your gin tonics, just don’t you dare touch my Tuesday mornings!

Zucchini, feta and mint tart

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 8 oz (230 g) puff pastry (rolled into a 9 x 1 1 inch rectangle)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3.5 oz (scant 1/2 cup or 100 g) crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 3.5 oz (scant 1/2 cup or 100 g) greek yogurt
  • 10-15 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 7 oz feta cheese, chopped or crumbled
  • 2 spring onions, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Trim the ends off each zucchini, then use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to shave ribbons from top to bottom.

Rest a colander over a bowl and add the zucchini ribbons to it. Sprinkle on the salt, tossing so the ribbons are evenly coated. Sit a small plate that fits inside the colander on top of the zucchini, then rest a couple of heavy tins on top to press down. Set aside for 30 minutes or so to squeeze out the excess water.

Once the zucchini have finished the salting process, unroll the pastry onto a large sheet of baking paper and select a baking sheet large enough to fit the pastry sheet on flat, without folding the edges. Preheat the oven to 450°F (220°C) and adjust the baking rack to the lowest position, or rest directly on the oven floor. This will help create a crisp-bottomed tart.

Take a sharp knife and score a 1-1.5cm border around the edge of the pastry, taking care not to cut all the way through. Brush a little of the beaten egg onto the margin and set aside.

Mix the crème fraîche with the rest ?of the egg then stir in the mint and a generous seasoning of black pepper. Pour this mixture into the centre of the pastry and spread out to a thin layer, keeping it off the border as much as possible.

Arrange the zucchini ribbons on top of the crème fraîche mixture, letting them twirl and tangle; you don’t have to be very orderly about it. Scatter over the feta cheese, add a drizzle of olive oil and a final grind of black pepper. Arrange the spring onions over the top of the tart and brush with a bit more olive oil.

Place the tart directly on the rack positioned directly on top of the oven floor and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden, and the cheese is beginning to melt. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into slices and serving. This tart is great served warm or at room temperature.

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