Rachel de Thample is a woman after my own heart. A food writer, forager and advocate for seasonal and local produce, she has worked in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Peter Gordon and Hester Blumenthal. She was Commissioning Editor for Waitrose Food Illustrated, contributed to two Borough Market cookbooks and wrote a fabulous book called Less Meat, More Veg a few years ago. Did I mention that she is also a fellow South Londoner? Rachel is the Food Editor for one of the pioneers of the UK organic veg box schemes, Abel & Cole. She writes the most delicious, weekly seasonal recipes for them and also meets with food buyers to look at the ethical aspects of sourcing food. Her second book, called FIVE has just been published. It is full of varied, accessible and delicious recipes that will have you packing away fruits and vegetables without any effort at all. There is a very useful double page spread listing fruits and vegetables and their portion sizes and the recipes clearly state how many portions are in each recipe. And the recipes! There isn’t a single one which I wouldn’t make – from creative breakfast truffles and clever muffins to galettes, latkes, stunning salads, hearty soups, curries, pastries, cakes, puddings, sorbets…mouthwatering and while heavy on the fruit and vegetables, there are recipes which include fish and meat. I have a copy of FIVE to give away to a lucky reader which I will tell you about in another post but in the meantime just get your tastebuds going with some of these recipe titles – Mexican Roast Pumpkin Soup with Lime; Lemony Scrambled Eggs with Indian Spiced Spinach and Mushrooms; Sassy Cherry and Watercress Salad with Crushed Pistachios; Athenian Rissoles with Pavlos’ Sauce; Summer Veg Patch Gumbo with Chorizo and Crab; Honeyed Aubergine, Feta and Walnut Borek; Honey Blossom Peaches; Mulled Figs with Mascarpone…doesn’t it all sound delicious? In the meantime, inspired by the premise of the book and my complimentary Able and Cole veg box as well as my Sutton Community Farm veg box, I came up with a recipe which I hope Ms De Thample would approve of!
It is full of seasonal ingredients like ruby chard, mushrooms, leeks and one of my favourite winter ingredients – chestnuts; gently sautéed together with celery, garlic and thyme and a little lemon to sharpen the flavours, spread onto flakey puff pastry and topped with Barber’s delicious cheddar cheese.
My recipe has been featured over on the Happy Foodie website along with four other bloggers – take a look at what they have to say and what they made here – http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/number-five-challenge
Ruby Chard, Mushroom & Chestnut Tart
- Bunch of ruby chard or swiss chard or spinach (approximately 250g)
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 punnet shitake mushrooms
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 leek
- 2 cloves garlic
- 75g vacuum packed cooked chestnuts
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp vegetable stock powder ilke Essentials or Marigold
- 1 good handful of grated Barbers Vintage Reserve Cheddar Cheese
- 1 x 320 g sheet of ready rolled, all butter puff pastry
- 2 eggs beaten with a tablespoon of milk
- Fill the sink with cold water and swish the chard around in it to loosen any soil. Leave the chard in the water to let any grit settle on the bottom of the sink. Carefully lift the chard out of the water, without disturbing the sediment on the bottom of the sink and gently shake off the excess water. Trim off the ends and cut out the stalks. Slice the stalks, on the diagonal into 3 cm pieces. Slice the leaves into wide ribbons. Keep them separate.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Dice the onions and slice the mushrooms and add these to the hot oil. Sprinkle with a little salt, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon then stir and cook until the onions are soft, floppy and golden and the mushrooms have caramelised. You may need to add a little more oil if the mushrooms soak it all up.
- While this is going on, finely dice the celery and and slice the leeks into 1 cm rings; coarsely chop the chestnuts – add to the pan with the chard stems and stir. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan along with the chard and thyme leaves. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes or until the chard has wilted.
- Sprinkle over the stock powder and add a splash of water – just enough to deglaze any caramelisation on the bottom of the pan and get everything nice and juicy but not wet! Turn the heat right down and let this simmer for a minute or two. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Unroll the pastry and score a 2 cm border around the perimeter. Transfer onto a parchment lined baking sheet/tray.
- Place the cooled chard mixture within the border and scatter over the grated cheddar cheese.
- Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten eggs and then gently drizzle the remainder of the egg mixture over the tart.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool a little before serving.
Eat warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 as a light main course with a salad and some cold cuts for the determined carnivores. Or slice into 12 and serve as part of a mezze for 6.