Posting this recipe today feels like such a massive achievement. Why you ask? Because this is the first recipe I have developed and photographed PB (= post Brutus). Brutus is the new addition to our family and, despite the (inherited) name, he is a four legged sweetie. Yes, we have finally adopted a puppy! It sounds less monumental when you see it written down like that though… perhaps it should be WE FINALLY ADOPTED A PUPPY!!!! It certainly deserves the shouty all caps, that’s how amazing it feels to have a dog after years of yearning for one. However this is not about Brutus – he will have a whole post dedicated to him and his adoption from Cyprus. I just want to get to know him a little better first – he has only been with us for less than 7 days.
So back to this tart… I was so thrilled to cook and photograph it, at puppy level no less, without any mishaps. And how awesome is this new background (a large metal trunk ) – I am in total heaven to have snapped it up on a local forum. Backgrounds are the unsung heroes of food photography and if you have ever hired props for a photoshoot you will know that these often beaten up pieces of wood or metal are hugely expensive to rent for a week. If you see anything with a bit of texture that’s large enough to use as a tabletop snap it up! I have quite the reputation for skip diving, and a bit of an ebay addiction, but I feel vindicated when I come across something amazing that shows off food in the best possible way (like these metal tiles I found near my office recently).
This tart has a phyllo (or is it filo? so confusing) base and a rich ricotta custard filling and then a topping of seasonal vegetables. I used courgettes, sprouting broccoli and leeks but you can use asparagus, peas, spring onions… anything green seems to work well! It’s great as a vegetarian main – just make sure the cheese you use is suitable for vegetarians as not all are. Leave the tart to cool completely before slicing so that it keeps its shape.
Spring Tart with Ricotta, Leek, Spouting Broccoli and Courgette
10 sheets phyllo (filo)
115g | 1 stick | 4oz unsalted butter, melted
5 medium eggs
400g | 14oz ricotta cheese, crumbled
100g | 3.5oz blue cheese (feta would also work well)
60g | 2oz grated Parmesan + more to sprinkle
1 medium courgette (zucchini) sliced into rounds
1 medium leek, white part only
6-8 stalks sprouting broccoli
handful pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper to season
a little olive oil to drizzle
2. Brush a shallow baking tin (mine was aprox. 20x28cm / 8x11in) with a little of the melted butter. Place one sheet of phyllo over the base, letting the edges overhang. Continue layering the phyllo sheets over each other, brushing liberally with melted butter between each addition. Keep any unused phyllo sheets covered as you work – they dry out fast.
3. Cover the middle of the tart with foil and place on a heavy baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes.
4. While the base is baking, put the ricotta and eggs in a bowl and use a balloon whisk to combine. Add the blue cheese and grated Parmesan and mix together. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the mint. Pour the filling into the tart.
5. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes until a little tender. Plunge them into cold water and pat dry. Slice the leek into thin strips.
6. Arrange the vegetables over the custard in a nice pattern and sprinkle with the seeds. Grate some more Parmesan over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the custard is set. You might need to add a bit of foil to protect the edges of the tart as the phyllo can colour too much.
7. Leave the tart to cool on a wire rack before serving.