Jo Pratt's salmon, dill and rye tart

The Flexible Baker: 3 savoury recipes that are perfect for an al fresco lunch

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Gearing up for al fresco dining season? These three savoury bakes make for an easy lunch option.

After many, many months of multiple layers, cosy nights in and hearty comfort food, with the scent of spring in the air at last, our thoughts are swiftly turning to long lazy days spent outside. And we all know that there are few better delights when the days are long and warm than enjoying a simple lunch al fresco, whether it’s on your balcony, in the local park or in your friend’s garden.

The Flexible Baker by Jo Pratt
The Flexible Baker by Jo Pratt

While we’re no strangers to picking up staples from our local supermarket and deli, if time permits, there’s nothing like creating something homemade to add to your outdoor spread. 

With her new book The Flexible Baker, food stylist, writer and presenter Jo Pratt is not just providing us with 75 sweet and savoury baking recipes, but each and every one can be adapted to suit your dietary needs. From swapping out plain flour to make a dish gluten-free to offering insights on what to use in place of common baking ingredients, all of her recipes set out to be adaptable for gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan lifestyles. 

Though the book features plenty of sweet delights that have caught our eye, with temperatures finally rising above single digits and encouraging us to get prepared for al fresco dining season, we’re sharing three savoury lunch recipes that are just calling out to be eaten outside.

There are few dishes that lend themselves to outdoor dining quite like quiche. Just as good hot as it is cold or room temperature, Jo’s salmon, dill and rye tart recipe is, as she describes: a Scandi twist on a classic quiche. The easy recipe can also be made gluten-free and vegetarian to suit any guests you may have. 

A second recipe that can easily be tweaked for any veggies is Jo’s rustic tomato puttanesca tarts. Promising the flavours of the classic pasta sauce – think rich tomatoes with the tang of olives and capers – the carb of choice here is a rich flaky pastry. Perfect served with a simple green salad.

No time to make your own pastry? Jo’s spiced sweet potato strudel makes use of ready-made filo so all that’s left to do is make the flavour-packed filling and assemble. Featuring roasted sweet potatoes, pine nuts, chickpeas and the likes of cumin, cinnamon and harissa, the vegan roll is a sure-fire picnic showstopper. 

  • Salmon, dill and rye tart

    Jo Pratt's salmon, dill and rye tart
    Jo Pratt's salmon, dill and rye tart

    Jo says: “I’ve given a classic quiche a Scandinavian twist with a rich wholesome rye pastry, fresh salmon and plenty of aromatic dill. It’s packed with flavour and a wonderful go-to tart for supper, lunch or part of a sharing platter with salads and charcuterie. A mix of pickled gherkins, sliced beetroot, avocado, red onion and soured cream is a favourite side salad of mine to serve alongside this tart. This makes one large tart, although you can easily make this into individual ones if you wish.”

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    For the pastry:

    • 175g rye flour, plus extra for dusting
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp flaked sea salt
    • 65g butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing
    • 65g cream cheese
    • 2 tbsp milk

    For the filling:

    • 300g skinless salmon fillet
    • olive oil
    • 4 eggs
    • 200g soured cream
    • 25g, roughly chopped
    • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    To make the pastry, put the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl or food processor. Add the butter and rub or blitz to a fine crumb. Add the cream cheese and half of the milk, and bring everything together until you have a dough, adding the remaining milk if required. You should end up with a soft dough consistency.

    Grease a 24cm/9 inch tart tin or pie dish with butter ready for the pastry. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface then roll out thinly, turning a quarter turn every time you roll. Transfer to the greased tin, pressing the pastry into the edges. Patch up any cracks or breaks with pastry. Trim the edges and place in the fridge for about one hour to chill. Keep any pastry trimmings back should they be required to patch up any pastry cracks once baked.

    Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and pour in some baking beans, uncooked rice or dried beans. Sit on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further eight minutes until the pastry is just turning golden.

    While the pastry case is cooking, you can bake the salmon. Sit the salmon fillets on a piece of foil and season with salt. Drizzle with oil and loosely wrap to seal into a parcel. Pop in the oven while the pastry case bakes and cook for the final eight minutes. Beat the eggs and soured cream together and season. Stir in the dill and pour into the pastry case. Flake the salmon into the filling and carefully transfer to the oven. 

    Bake for 20–25 minutes until the filling is just set and turning golden. Serve warm or cold.

    Flexible

    Gluten-free
    Rye flour is extremely low in gluten, but if it’s a completely gluten-free pastry you require, you can use buckwheat flour, which has an equally delicious nuttiness that rye flour provides.

    Vegetarian
    A fabulous swap for salmon in this tart is aged feta cheese which has a deeper flavour and works really well with the aromatic dill and nutty pastry. Coarsely crumble 300g feta cheese into the tart case before adding the egg and dill mixture. Bake as above.

  • Rustic tomato puttanesca tarts

    Jo Pratt's rustic tomato puttanesca tarts
    Jo Pratt's rustic tomato puttanesca tarts

    Jo says: “This rich flaky pastry is very easy to make and a perfect base for individual tarts. You can make it with any topping you fancy (do have a go at the Flexible flavour swap suggestion below). Here, I’m sharing my all-time favourite. Sweet, caramelised onions with all of the classic flavours used in an Italian puttanesca sauce.”

    Makes 4

    Ingredients

    For the pastry:

    • 280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 1 tsp flaked sea salt
    • 175g butter, chilled and diced
    • 125–150ml ice-cold water
    • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

    For the filling:

    • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • 4 anchovies in oil, finely chopped
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • 4–6 ripe, medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • 16–20 pitted black olives, quartered
    • 1 tbsp capers
    • ½–1 red chilli, finely sliced
    • 50g finely grated Parmesan cheese
    • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    To make the pastry, put the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using your fingers, roughly rub in the butter, leaving larger chunks than if you were making a shortcrust pastry. This will make a flakier pastry. Drizzle over most of the water and bring everything together with your hands. Use the remaining water if required. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

    To make the filling, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes until softened and starting to become lightly golden. Add the sugar, anchovies and oregano. Continue to cook for a further five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

    Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and dust with flour.

    Dust the worktop with flour. Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide into four balls. Roll out each ball about 3mm thick, giving you circles of around 20cm/8 inch diameter. Spread the onions in the centre of the pastry circles, leaving a 2cm border. Arrange the tomato slices on top and scatter over the olives, capers and chilli, finishing with a good twist of pepper, a pinch of salt, scattering of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

    Fold the rim of pastry up and over the edge of the tarts and brush the pastry with beaten egg. Bake the tarts for 25–30 minutes, until golden. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

    Flexible

    Vegan
    Use a plant-based butter alternative to make the pastry. Omit the anchovies and use ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt when cooking the onions for flavour. Use a vegan Parmesan-style cheese and brush the pastry with oil rather than egg.

    Flavour swap
    To make fig and prosciutto tarts, omit the anchovies and divide the onions between the pastry circles. Arrange three to four sliced figs on top of the onions and add four to six slices of prosciutto torn into pieces. Scatter over a small handful of roughly chopped walnuts, season and drizzle with olive oil. Brush the pastry with egg and bake as above.

  • Spiced sweet potato strudel

    Jo Pratt's spiced sweet potato strudel
    Jo Pratt's spiced sweet potato strudel

    Jo says: “If you’re after a go-to vegan dish that’s packed full of flavour and straightforward to make, then this is it. The Moroccan-inspired sweet potato and chickpea filling is encased in layers of flaky filo pastry, with each layer flavoured with lemon zest and aromatic herbs. This versatile strudel can be served for all types of occasions; cut into small slices with salad for lunch, cold for a packed picnic or even as an impressive celebration centrepiece.”

    Serves 8–12

    Ingredients

    • 750g sweet potatoes, cut lengthways
    • 40g pine nuts
    • 4–5 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 large onion, finely sliced
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • 400g tin chickpeas, drained
    • 75g sultanas
    • 1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
    • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
    • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
    • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 6 sheets filo pastry
    • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp sesame seeds

    Method

    Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the sweet potatoes, cut side down, on the baking tray. Roast for 25–30 minutes until tender. Put the pine nuts on a small baking tray and lightly toast in the oven for five minutes. Set aside. 

    Scoop the cooked potato flesh into a large bowl and mash with a fork.

    Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for eight minutes until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin seeds and cinnamon and cook for a further minute or so. Spoon the onions into the sweet potatoes and add the harissa, chickpeas, sultanas, toasted pine nuts and season with salt and pepper.

    In a separate bowl, mix together the chopped herbs and lemon zest. 

    Lay one sheet of filo pastry on top of a piece of baking parchment and brush the pastry generously with olive oil. Scatter with some of the lemony herbs and sit another piece of filo on top. Repeat until all of the filo sheets have been used. Spread the sweet potato filling over the filo, leaving a 2cm border all around the edge. Drizzle with oil and fold over the borders, holding in the filling.

    Start rolling to create a log shape, finishing with the seam side down. Slide a baking sheet underneath the parchment. Brush the strudel with oil and scatter with the sesame seeds.

    Bake for 30–40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Cool for about 20 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.

    Flexible

    Nut-free
    If you want to avoid pine nuts, then leave them out and a add a handful of chopped green olives in their place. To avoid sesame seeds, sprinke the top with some nigella (black onion) seeds or leave plain.

    Gluten-free
    This filling works really well baked in a sheet of ready rolled gluten-free puff pastry. Make the filling as per the recipe and sit along the length of the pastry sheet. Fold over the short ends, then fold over the long sides creating a long sausage shape. Transfer to a baking tray, seam side down. Lightly slash the top a few times with a knife and brush with some olive oil. Scatter with the sesame seeds and bake as above.

    The Flexible Baker by Jo Pratt (£20, White Lion Publishing) is out now

Photography: Malou Burger

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