It's that time of year for teeny weeny new potatoes that have that gorgeous slightly minerally taste and are so sweet it really does feel like eating “bon bons” when you pop them in your mouth. Simply cooked with a little butter and an assortment of fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chervil) they are divine. My favorite take however comes from days spent on the Aegean in Turkey – still warm potatoes drizzled with rich fruity olive oil, spring onions, parsley, lemon juice and olives. But roast teeny weeny potatoes, surrounded by roasted garlic and rosemary are a fast, healthy and sunshiny version of roast potatoes and it's those flavors that I love in this tart. The tart is inspired by Alison Henderson’s Cheddar Cheese, Onion and Potato Tart as described by Darina Allen which I have made many times. However for spring it's this version that works.
Due to the inclusion of the potatoes inside the tart you only have to add salad and a glass of wine for a light lunch or dinner. Salad at this time of year is a multi-coloured affair – grab some “salata” (butter lettuce), “loboda” (the pinky purply little leaves variously Garden Orache, Red Orach, Mountain Spinach, French Spinach, or simply "orache" or arrach) and crunchy “ridichii” (radishes) from the market and dribble with a little olive oil and add lemon juice to keep things zesty.
The pastry is the easy peasy “good oil” pastry but if pastry is not your thing, oil a tin well (preferably a non stick one) and bake the filling only and create a no pastry tart (I included the pastry recipe also below, in case you decide to go for it) .
Gadgets & Gizmos
I personally always prefer loose bottomed metal quiche tins but if you have a ceramic quiche dish that is fine too. If you are not using pastry then a well oiled baking tin will work well.
Ingredients – serves six to eight and freezes cut into portions very well
The amounts of potatoes, cheese and herbs are for guidance but the quiche filling works for a 22cm deep (4.5cm) quiche ring
500g of the smallest potatoes you can find- skins on
1 large onion finely diced
1 large bunch of parsley roughly chopped
3-4 spring onions roughly chopped
200g strong mature cheese. Pecorino is great, mature cheddar with some parmesan added as well is good. In Romania I use the “cascaval de capra” (goat cheese) as it is stronger or I buy the Dutch cheese
400ml of milk or cream
A little salt depending on the saltiness of the cheese, a little black pepper
1 sprig rosemary plus 2-3 for decoration
Cut any larger potatoes in half but the really small ones (kind of the size of a cherry is ideal) leave whole. Fry in a small quantity of olive oil until just cooked and those crispy crunchy bits appear which are so hard to resist. At this point add the onion and cook until just translucent. Leave to cool a little (or use leftover potatoes fried up with an onion the day before) and assemble the tart.
Below is the pastry recipe – after this step, add the rest of the filling.
The “Good Oil” Pastry
175g wholemeal flour
75g semolina (“gris”)
A handful of poppy seeds or black mustard seeds
80ml of best unfiltered/bio olive oil, hemp oil (“ulei de canepa”), soya oil
100ml water (you can use leftover wine too)
1 tsp salt
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl gently using a spoon until they all come together and the dough leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly.
Roll out the pastry and line your quiche tin.
Scrunch up a piece of baking paper (“hartie de copt” ) and un-scrunch it. Sounds weird but this works and the French (naturellement) even have a special word for this…which I have forgotten right now…anyhow… the scrunched up paper will now sit easier in your dish.
Chop up all the green leaves and the spring onions and place in the pastry case. The greenery should kind of be spilling over the top and you should have the urge to press it down and make it behave. A firm hand is best. Chop the cheese into rough cubes and scatter over the greenery in an artistic fashion. Now just lightly whip the egg/yoghurt/milk mixture together and pour over the green stuff and lightly fork over to make sure there are not massive nooks and crannies of air. The egg should be level with the top of the pastry case – this makes things a bit precarious when you place it in the oven so place on a tray before placing in the oven to avoid a burnt puddle of egg goo on the base of your oven. Oven cleaning - not fun.
Bake again at 180 degrees Celsius for anything between 20-30 minutes until the top has light brown spots and is definitely firm to the touch – you don’t want uncooked egg in the middle. Sometimes if the oven is fierce I switch down to 160 degrees Celsius and let the custard bake at a more leisurely pace. I was going to scatter some delicious mature Dutch goat’s cheese over the top just to give a lovely topping but I ate it instead with some “jamon”.
Serve warm or cold with a salad and a glass of something chilled. If you want a little more substance then add some boiled new potatoes dribbled in olive oil or some couscous with fresh herbs.
By Rachel Sargent, Guest Writer
(photo: Rachel Sargent)