This is a lovely colourful and nutritious tart that makes a great light lunch with a green salad or a feel good dinner served with roasted potatoes and a herby yoghurt dip. The wholemeal shortcrust pastry works really well with the earthiness of the beets and the sweet fennel, and it will keep you satisfied and energised throughout the day. The crust will be blind baked so pie weights or dried beans will be needed to weigh the dough down. If you’d like to make the tart vegan, just exchange the butter for your trusted vegan alternative.
Serves 6 – 8
225 g Wholemeal Flour, Wheat or Spelt
1/2 Tsp Salt
150 g Butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
3 cl Ice Cold Water
3 cl Rum (Vodka and Gin would work well here too)
1kg Colourful Beets, I used a mix of Yellow and Red.
100 g Coarse Sea Salt
Cumin or Caraway Seeds, optional
2 Large Fennel
About 700 ml Vegetable Stock
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Stems of Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Tbsp Pernod, or Gin would work well too
Salt to Taste
A little Lemon Zest
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
To prepare the beetroot, preheat the oven to 180 °C. Take a medium baking tray, and scatter with the coarse sea salt. Wash the beets, place on top of the salt and scatter with cumin or caraway seeds if using. Place in the oven and roast for about 60 minutes. It will depend on what size the beets are. Use a skewer to see if the beets are cooked, but you can usually see a little juice coming out through the skins when they are ready. Allow to cool slightly before carefully peeling with a small knife. Slice the beets thinly and set to one side, keeping the different colours separate.
Prepare the fennel, by cutting off the stalks, reserving any feathery fronds for later. Then cut the fennel in quarters and remove the tougher inner core. The stalks and core could be saved for making a veggie stock. Peel and halve the garlic.
In a large frying pan add the stock and bring to the boil, lie the fennel quarters in the stock, scatter with the thyme, a good pinch of Salt, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and the garlic halves. Place a lid on and allow the the fennel and stock to cook over a medium heat. After about 10 minutes check to see how soft they are by inserting a cooking needle or knife. The fennel should be soft, and well cooked. If not, replace the lid and cook for a further few minutes. Once the layers are soft, remove the lid, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid down. Use a spoon to glaze the fennel as the liquid reduces down. Once the liquid has nearly all gone, turn the heat down and add the Pernod or gin. Allow the Pernod to bubble away and then turn the heat off. Spoon the caramelised liquid over the fennel. Season to taste adding the roughly chopped fennel fronds and a little lemon zest.
To make the shortcrust pastry mix together the flour and salt in a bowl, add in the cubed butter. Rub the butter and flour between the fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the ice cold water and rum. Bring the dough together into a ball, but refrain from kneading the dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least half an hour. The dough could also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Butter a quiche dish. Take the dough, and on a floured work surface, roll the pastry out so that it is very slightly larger the quiche form. Neatly trim the edges using a knife. Lightly prick the surface with a fork and then place a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry followed by a layer of pie weights or dried beans. I have a container of chickpeas that I specifically use to blind bake. Bake for about 10 mins, until the edges are lightly golden and crisp, then remove the dried beans and baking paper and bake for a further 5 -7 minutes until the base begins to brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Keep the oven on at 180 °C.
Cut the fennel wedges into thirds and place in a bowl with 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch, mix well, and check for seasoning. Put the red beets into a bowl and mix with 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch, and season well. Put the yellow beets into a bowl, mix with 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch and season well. Fill the tart crust with the beets and fennel, sprinkle over the fennel seeds and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Bake the tart at 180 °C for 30 minutes.
I hope you make and enjoy this recipe.