I often get left with carrots at the bottom of the fridge. They play an overlooked, but important, base in so many meals: part of a mirepoix, in casseroles and in pies to name a few. Rarely, in my kitchen anyway, do the carrots get to be the star of the dish. So when some beautiful rainbow carrots arrived in the veg box it would have been rude to simply chuck them into various dinners. This time, I wanted to celebrate this lovely root in a rainbow carrot tart with summer herbs and goat’s cheese. A seasonal halfway tart if you will; one that is both full of summer flavours and the anticipation of autumn.
You will need (for one large tart, enough for 4-6 people):
- Shortcrust pastry, around 300g, or one ready rolled, all butter, sheet
- 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 big handfuls mixed herbs: dill, parsley, chives
- Salt and pepper
- 500g crème fraîche
- 150g soft goat’s cheese, cut in cubes
- 3 eggs
- 8-10 rainbow carrots, peeled and sliced lengthways
- Sprinkle of dried (or fresh) thyme
- 1 tbsp honey
- Oil and butter for cooking and greasing
Start by making the pastry. I had some leftover that I had previously frozen. If you’re making the pastry from scratch here’s a handy shortcrust pastry recipe.
Preheat an oven to 190C.
Grease a baking tray, around 30 x 40cm, with butter. The tray needs to have edges to hold the pastry and tart filling.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it’s a little bigger than the baking tray. Place the pastry on the baking tray and leave the sides overhanging.
Prick the pastry all over with a fork. Pop a sheet of greaseproof paper over the pastry, fill with baking beans and then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. If you don’t have baking beans you can use dried beans or rice.
Remove from the oven, remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and put to one side.
While the pastry bakes, make the filling. Fry the onions and garlic on a medium to low heat in a little oil until well softened.
In a bowl mix together the crème fraîche, cheese, eggs, herbs, onion and garlic and salt and pepper. Pour this mixture into the pastry case and spread it out to fill the case.
Pour a little oil onto the carrots and sprinkle over the thyme. Rub the carrots in the oil and thyme then arrange them on top of the tart.
Return the tart to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle with the honey then put back in the oven for a further five minutes, or until golden brown.
The inspiration for this tart comes from the classic combination of figs, goat’s cheese and honey. I thought, if it works for figs why not try it with carrots? I can safely say it was very successful. Don’t worry about cutting up the cheese into neat pieces. I had all sorts of different sized bits of cheese and it made the tart so interesting to eat; especially when you were the lucky owner of a particularly cheesy slice. The carrots were wonderfully sweet and slightly earthy, the herbs were fragrant and the filling creamy but not too much so. A little drizzle of honey at the end finished everything off perfectly. The dill gives the rainbow carrot tart a fantastically aniseed flavour, so don’t skimp on it. Served alongside a nice fresh salad it was both a farewell to summer and a hello to autumn.