Roasted Aubergine, Fennel and Tomato Tart with Pea Pesto

This vegan tart has a real Mediterranean flavour and uses fennel and aubergine as its main vegetables, with the addition of tomatoes and a delicious pea pesto to finish it off. The recipe is not gluten-free, but it can easily be made so by switching to a gluten-free flour and adding a teaspoon of xanthan gum to help it bind. Just remember that rolling out gluten-free pastry is not as easy as that made with regular flour, so you may have to patch it together in the tart tin. You can also use a pre-made pastry if you don’t want to take the time to make your own.

You can serve this fennel and aubergine tart either hot or cold. My personal preference is for straight out of the oven, with just a little time to cool off, but you can cool it completely, store it in the fridge and have it as a cold lunch. It’s also great to take on picnics if the weather is up for it.


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Prep time: 25 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

Makes a 9 ½ inch tart

Can be made gluten-free by switching the pastry

 

Ingredients:

For the Filling:

2 fennel bulbs, talks and stem removed and the bulb cut into quarters

1 aubergine, cut into ½ cm rings

250g baby plum tomatoes, halved

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife

A good drizzle of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the Pastry:

300g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp gram flour

150g vegan margarine, plus extra for greasing

100ml plant-based milk

 

For the Pea Pesto:

130g petit pois peas, defrosted

Juice of ½ a large lemon

1 large clove garlic, peeled

½ tsp Dijon mustard

15g toasted almonds

15g grated vegan parmesan

A generous pinch of salt

A dash of black pepper

50ml olive oil

50ml sunflower oil

 

To Top:

A little grated vegan parmesan

A drizzle of olive oil


Method:

Preheat the oven to gas 7/220C/425F.

Put the vegetables for the filling, including the garlic, onto a baking tray. Drizzle over the oil and season with the salt and pepper, then mix with your hands to fully coat the veg in the oil. Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through and browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool

While the veg is roasting you can make the pastry. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, salt and gram flour. Put the margarine, a spoon at a time, in with the flour, then use your fingers to work the flour mix and margarine into fine bread crumbs. This will take about 5 minutes. Once this is done, pour in the milk and mix together using an ordinary table knife. When it has formed large lumps it is ready to bring together. Use your hands to work the dough together into a large ball and then bring it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently for just a minute or so to make sure it is fully combined. When this is done, place into a container with a lid and chill for 20-30 minutes.

Now make the pea pesto by placing all of the pesto ingredients into a blender and blending until reasonable smooth (it’s ok to have a little bit of texture here). You can add a little bit more oil if you feel the pesto is too thick. Set aside until needed.

Once the veg is out of the oven, turn it down to gas 6/200C/400F and grease a 9 ½ inch loose-bottomed tart tin with vegan margarine.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a couple of inches beyond the size of the tart tin. Place in the tin and press into all the sides. Trim the pastry with scissors to just a little over the lip of the tin, so that if it shrinks it will still be level with the edge of the tin. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper over the pastry and trim to size. Fill this with baking beans or dried rice, then place in the middle of the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, until firm. Now remove the beans and the paper and bake for another 5 minutes to firm up the bottom of the pastry.

Remove the pastry from the oven and spread about half of the pea pesto over the base of the tart. Now spoon in the roasted veg and sporadically dollop the rest of the pesto on top. Sprinkle on some more grated vegan parmesan and then drizzle over a little olive oil.

Place the tart in the middle of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until it is cooked through and nicely browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before serving, or cool completely and serve chilled.


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