Because I have pretensions towards being middle class, I get a vegetable box from Abel & Cole delivered each fortnight. And, because I am horrendously forgetful – particularly when it comes to vegetable deliveries – I often neglect to take a look at their website to see what’s going to be in it each week. While this often leads to me opening my box to find delicious surprises inside, it also means that I’m frequently presented with vegetables which I have no idea what to do with (Kohlrabi, anyone?) This is how I found myself frantically googling ‘chicory recipes’ recently. I had a vague memory of eating it in a (frankly disgusting) gratin once – the sprinkling of anemic looking breadcrumbs doing nothing to disguise its hideous slimy bitterness – so I wasn’t feeling too confident. And I certainly didn’t want to find myself spending an hour of my life slaving over a hot stove only to make something which looked vile, smelt like a foot and ended up being swiftly dispatched to the bin.
Then inspiration kindly decided to roll out of my kitchen cupboards in the form of my tart tin. I’m very fond of baking up leftover vegetables into various creations, and I’m even fonder of finding an excuse to wrap them up in pastry. I had a vague inkling that chicory and blue cheese went well together, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was eating gigantic slabs of this Chicory, Blue Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart for my lunch.
Comprising of caramelised onions and chicory, and a larger-than-really-needed handful of blue cheese, this is quite a robust little number. It’s helped in no small part by the delicious olive oil tart crust I used as a base. Taken from the delightful French food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, it’s a doddle to make, comes together in minutes and rolls out like a dream (although it can be a bit springy when chilled.) I found this crust to be perfect for this recipe, although I’m sure that no one will complain if you use ready made shortcrust instead (and if they do, I suggest you throw them some serious side-eye.) This makes a fine lunch, a divine dinner and a seriously superb snack. It goes very well with a crisp green salad and an even crisper glass of white wine. Alternatively, it also works well being eaten in the light of your fridge while listening to the World at One.
CHICORY, BLUE CHEESE AND CARAMELISED ONION TART
You will need:
- One tart crust (either make your own, or use your preferred brand of shortcrust pastry)
- 2 bulbs of chicory
- 1 large red onion
- 30g butter
- 1tbsp light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 50ml creme fraiche
- 100g blue cheese (I used Cashel Blue), crumbled into lumps
- Salt & Pepper
- First, prepare your tart crust. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thickness, and gently lay it over a tart tin. Blind bake it for 15-20 minutes at 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while you’re preparing the filling.
- Slice the onion and the chicory into rounds (making sure to discard the hard core of the chicory.) Heat the sugar and butter together until they are browned and bubbling slightly. Fry the onion and chicory for roughly 5 – 7 minutes until they are soft and golden. Remove from the pan, and set to one side.
- Beat the eggs and creme fraiche together, add the lumps of blue cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Layer the chicory and onions inside your baked tart case, and pour the wet mixture over the top, ensuring that the blue cheese crumbs are spread evenly.
- Bake at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for 30 – 35 minutes until set. Leave to cool for fifteen minutes before serving. This should be good for around a week, meaning it’s great if you want to cook it the day before taking it to a picnic or brunch.