When I was a little girl, my mother would cook a beetroot stew. I am not sure if there was a recipe or her own creation but I didn’t quite like the look of it. Beetroot was cooked in the pressure cooker with other vegetables and the resulting colour wasn’t very appealing. The potatoes would turn orange, spinach looked black, the onions were lost somewhere and then we would stand facing the mirror with our tongues out after consuming it . Without a doubt it tasted delicious, but that colour! Today, I love beetroot. I love the way it stains my hands and my kitchen counter. I love the way it looks and tastes. I use this root vegetable to pack variety and nutrition into the meals I make for my children. I feel an irresistible urge to take out the camera every time I notice it’s powerful purplish existence in a dish. It has the natural ability to make food look vibrant and attractive.
Beetroot is often paired with goat’s cheese. In tarts, especially. I think it’s an amazing combination but it does pair well with other cheeses as well. I like how it tastes with feta, mascarpone and ricotta. The saltiness and creamy texture of feta is just perfect to balance the sweet, moreish flavour of beetroot. Balsamic vinegar adds a lovely depth to the filling in this tart and thyme makes it aromatic. I adapted the concept of this tart from here but pretty much changed everything from the ingredients to the method of making it.
This is one tart that you would want to make over and over again. There is so much flavour in it. It makes for an impressive starter or a snack. If you are not comfortable making the tart shell, use a premade shell for the sake of the tart. You wont be disappointed. The filling can be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator. The tart is best baked the same day.
Beetroot And Feta Tart
2 large beetroot (about 400g), trimmed, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 red onions thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
150g smooth feta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150ml thickened cream
Extra thyme springs, to scatter
Fresh herbs, to serve
For the pastry
1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
100g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
To make the pastry, place flour, butter and a pinch salt in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup (60ml) chilled water, then process until the mixture comes together in a ball. Enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Lightly grease a 23 cm loose-bottomed tart pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 5mm thick, then use to line the tart pan. Chill for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights, then bake for 5 minutes or until dry and pale golden. Remove from oven and leave aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until softened. Add beetroot, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and 1 cup water, then cook for 12-15 minutes (stirring in between to prevent burning) until thickened and tender. Cool the mixture.
Spread beetroot mixture over the tart base, then crumble over feta cheese. Whisk egg and cream together, then pour into tart case. Scatter with extra thyme. Bake for 35 minutes or until set. Slice and serve with a leafy green salad.