From a classic courgette tart to a tomato tarte tatin, these recipes are perfect for summer entertaining.
When it comes to summer meals that are aesthetically impressive yet surprisingly straightforward, few dishes can match savoury tarts. At their simplest, these recipes involve little more than piling the prettiest seasonal vegetables on top of melt-in-the-mouth pastry, then whacking the whole thing in the oven – a process that’s much less labour-intensive than the final result suggests.
The low-effort, high-reward nature of savoury summer tarts makes them a perfect meal to serve to guests (but needless to say, if you’re inclined to make one just for yourself, we commend your commitment to culinary self-care). They’re also one of those dishes that taste just as good, if not better, when eaten cold the next day – so you can rest assured that any leftovers won’t go to waste.
Below, you’ll find three savoury tart recipes that make the most of summer vegetables. Acclaimed Cornwall-based chef Emily Scott’s beautifully simple recipe deploys readymade puff pastry for ease and speed, topped with delicate spring onions, rich cheddar cheese and wilted little gem lettuce (trust her on putting the lettuce in the oven: it’s a revelation).
Vegan food writer Katy Beskow’s recipe for tomato tarte tatin also calls for pre-rolled puff pastry, although she naturally uses a dairy-free version. Juicy summer tomatoes and caramelised red onion create a delicious sweetness, while balsamic vinegar and black olives add a tangy, salty kick. Try to track down a mixture of red, orange and yellow tomatoes for the ultimate feast for the eyes.
Finally, if you have a little more time on your hands, try the courgette tart recipe from iconic Italian cookbook authors The Silver Spoon Kitchen – it contains instructions for making wholemeal pastry from scratch, but you can always shortcut by using the shop-bought stuff if you prefer. A filling made from ingredients including shallots, pine nuts and ricotta is topped with thin slivers of courgette, then sprinkled with tiny yellow courgette flowers: order Devon-grown courgettes with flowers via Farmdrop if you can’t find them in your local supermarket or greengrocers.
Little gem tart with Keen’s cheddar, spring onions and flat-leaf parsley
Emily Scott says: “Real gems. They’re sweet, crunchy and a beautiful shape, and I like to use them in salads. Wilting lettuce down shows its beautiful shape and brings out bittersweet notes – a wonderful way of eating lettuce in a slightly different way.
“Keen’s cheddar is rich and dense with layers of flavour. If you can’t find it, a medium to strong cheddar will work well in this recipe.”
- olive oil, for shallow frying and brushing
- bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 x 375g ready-rolled puff pastry sheet
- 200g Keen’s cheddar (or any good-quality strong cheddar), grated
- 2–3 little gem lettuce
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the spring onions and a splash of water and cover the pan with a lid so they steam for a few minutes.
Remove the lid and continue to cook until tender and turning golden. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Unroll the puff pastry on its paper onto a baking sheet and score a 5mm border around the edge using the tip of a sharp knife. Make patterns around the border, if you like.
Add the grated cheddar to the spring onions, season well and tip everything onto the pastry, spreading it out to the border.
Cut the lettuce into quarters. In a bowl, mix the chopped parsley with a little olive oil and plenty of seasoning and brush the mixture all over the lettuce.
Fry in the same pan you used for the spring onions until the lettuce just starts to turn golden at the edges.
Arrange the lettuce on the tart and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and starting to brown.
This is best served straight from the oven.
From Sea & Shore: Recipes And Stories From A Kitchen In Cornwall by Emily Scott (£26, Hardie Grant), out now
Tomato and olive tarte tatin
Katy Beskow says: “Make this impressive tarte tatin for a barbecue, garden party or picnic for a summery taste of the Mediterranean. Not only does the tarte tatin look wonderful, but it’s simple and quick to prepare, which means more time enjoying the summer, and less time in the kitchen!
“Red, orange and yellow tomatoes give a colourful, summery appearance to the dish, but if you only have cherry or mini plum tomatoes available, it will not take away from the flavour.”
- 1 sheet of prepared puff pastry (ensure dairy-free)
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 500g mixed baby tomatoes
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 100g pitted black olives
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
- generous pinch of black pepper
Lay the pastry sheet out on a clean, dry surface and place a large ovenproof frying pan over the top. Cut around the pan, leaving an extra 2cm border.
Prick the pastry with a fork, then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Add the sunflower oil to the ovenproof pan and throw in the tomatoes and red onion. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium-high heat, then drizzle in the balsamic vinegar.
Reduce down for 8 minutes then remove from the heat.
Stir in the olives and chopped thyme. Season with lots of black pepper.
Place the pastry on top of the cooked tomatoes in the pan, pricked side downwards, and carefully tuck the edges under the tomatoes. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Allow the pan to cool for a few moments before carefully turning out onto a serving plate.
From Easy Vegan Bible: 200 Easiest Ever Plant-based Recipes by Katy Beskow (£22, Quadrille), out now
Courgette and pine nut tart
For a vegan version, omit the ricotta, eggs and parmesan. Chop 300g tofu and sauté it with the shallot and courgette flowers, then blend as directed.
Serves 6 to 8
- 200g wholemeal flour
- 60ml plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 6 tbsp/50g pine nuts
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 16 courgette flowers, pistils removed, coarsely chopped (keep a few whole for garnish)
- 2 courgettes
- 300g ricotta cheese
- 6 tbsp/40g grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 sprigs marjoram
- 1 sprig thyme
- 10 basil leaves
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 50g sliced wholemeal bread
- salt and black pepper
In a food processor, combine the flour, a pinch of salt and some pepper and pulse to combine.
With the motor running, drizzle in 60ml of the olive oil and 60ml water and process until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Put 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts in a small bowl, add water to cover, and set aside to soak for 20 minutes, then drain.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large frying pan, combine the shallot, 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons water and cook over medium-low heat for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the courgette flowers and season with salt. Raise the heat to high and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a blender, combine the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, marjoram, thyme, basil, remaining 3 tablespoons unsoaked pine nuts, the nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Add the courgette flower mixture and blend until well combined.
In a food processor, pulse the bread until broken down into coarse crumbs, then transfer them to a frying pan and cook over medium-low heat until lightly toasted. Let cool.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 2mm thick sheet and transfer it to a nonstick 22cm round baking pan, pressing the dough into the corners.
Trim the excess dough and prick the bottom all over with a fork.
Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs, then fill with the ricotta mixture and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
Using a vegetable peeler, slice the courgettes lengthwise into ribbons and arrange them over the ricotta mixture.
Brush the courgettes with a little oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and distribute the soaked pine nuts evenly over the top.
Bake the tart in the lower third of the oven for about 40 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
From The Vegetarian Silver Spoon: Classic and Contemporary Italian Recipes by The Silver Spoon Kitchen (£35, Phaidon), out now
Photography: © Luke Albert; © Kim Lightbody; Simon Bajada