Pumpkin, sage and nutmeg are a match made in heaven; add some softened leeks and Parmesan, a rich set custard and some pastry and you’ve got a tart to die for!
Making tarts can be quite time consuming, especially if you’re making your own pastry. It’s also, in the case of vegetables, often necessary to intensify their flavour by cooking them first, ahead of becoming part of your tart. And this is the case here. However, if you prepare the raw pastry and roast your pumpkin ahead (or even bake the pastry shell and keep in an airtight container), the recipe isn’t as long winded as it sounds. And, of course, you can always buy your own pastry to make your life easier.
The tart below is large enough to serve 6-8 people. If you want a smaller version or have bought ready-made pastry (which tends to be solder in smaller blocks), halve all the ingredients below but follow the same method and use a 20cm diameter round tart tin.
The tart is best served about 30 minutes after it comes out of the oven or room temperature, to allow all the flavours to mingle.
Ingredients for a 28cm diameter round tart case or 20cm x 30cm rectangular one (as in the picture)
For the roast pumpkin
- ½ an average sized pumpkin (about 600g), skin-on, cut into 8 wedges (think Cadbury’s chocolate orange)
- Olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
For the shortcrust pastry
- 350g plain flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 egg yolks mixed with 4.5 tbsp cold water
For the leeks
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 leeks, finely sliced
- Pinch salt
- 1.5 tbsp chopped sage
- Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
Assembling the tart
- 50g Parmesan, finely grated
- 300ml double cream
- 2 eggs
- Salt and black pepper
Roast the pumpkin
Preheat your oven to 180 °C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Place your pumpkin slices evenly on the tray and drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Using your hands, rub the oil and seasoning all over the slices, including the skin. Roast in the oven for 1 hour until they’ve shrunk and turned caramelised at the edges. Leave to one side until ready to use.
Make the pastry
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Blend for a few seconds to distribute evenly. Then add all the cubes of butter. Blend for about 10 seconds before going in with a fork or spoon to mix things around a little, ensuring any bits of buttery flour that may have got stuck at the bottom, are detached. Now blend again until you have a sandy homogenous looking mixture.
Next, with the blade of your food processor running, drizzle the egg yolk and water mixture into the blended flour and butter. Once you have added half the liquid, turn off the blade and once more go in with a fork, mixing things around as best you can and detaching any bits that seem to be sticking to the bottom. Turn the motor back on and add the remaining liquid. Continue to blend until the dough starts to come together in large clumps. Now turn the motor off, transfer the pastry to a lightly floured board and push all the clumps together using your hands to form a ball. It shouldn’t feel sticky and should have a feeling of plasticine or modelling clay. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll and bake the pastry
Roll the pastry out to line your tin. Pop the lined tin back in the fridge for 30 minutes to relax.
Preheat your oven to 200 °C. Remove the pastry lined tin from the fridge and pierce the surface all over with a fork to prevent the pastry from rising. Crumple a piece of greaseproof paper large enough to cover the base and sides of the pastry. Then push it gently into the tin, over the pastry, followed by enough baking beans or dried beans to come up 2/3 of the side of the tin. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes before removing, carefully lifting out the paper and beans and then returning the uncovered pastry to the oven for a further 5 minutes. This process prevents the sides of the pastry collapsing and is called ‘blind baking’. Remove from the oven until ready to assemble.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170 °C
Prepare the leeks
Whilst the pastry is baking, melt the butter with the oil in a heavy based saucepan. Add the sliced leeks and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes until very soft and reduced in volume. Add the nutmeg and sage and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes before taking off the heat. Taste for seasoning.
Assemble and cook the tart
Whisk the cream and eggs together in a jug along with some salt and black pepper.
Delicately spread the leek mixture across the base of the tart. Then arrange the roast pumpkin slices on top and sprinkle over the grated cheese. Now pour the egg and cream mixture evenly across the tart. Bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes until puffed up and golden.
Allow to cool a little and then remove from the tin and serve with vegetables or a salad of your choice.