Mark Hix recipes: Our chef's 10-minute sumptuous savoury tart recipes

Tarts don’t have to be taxing, says our man in the kitchen. Avoid all the huffing and puffing with good-quality, pre-made pastry, topped off with sun-dried tomatoes, field mushrooms – or even a full English breakfast

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Making savoury tarts these days is no longer the long, arduous process it once was. In fact, with the help of some good-quality, pre-made, butter puff pastry you can make them in a trice. And why not, when they are such a versatile food – as good to eat on a picnic as they are on a shooting or fishing trip?

I've prepared a couple of simple bases here which you can spread on to pastry. They are a good start, certainly, but feel free to add other things that you think might work well. The crumb topping is also a flexible component which can be added to the tart for an extra bit of texture, if you fancy.

Tomato tart

Serves 4

Sun-dried tomatoes were completely overused in the 1990s, but they shouldn't be disregarded – in a dish like this, where they are blended into a smooth paste with a little oil, they give the tarts a nice intensity.

4 butter puff pastry rectangles, rolled to 3-4mm and cut to about 8x10cm
50g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
4 medium ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the crumb topping

20g fresh white breadcrumbs
20g grated Parmesan
½tbsp chopped parsley
15g butter, melted

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One of Mark's tomato tarts takes shape (Jason Lowe)


Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Blend the sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor with enough of the oil to form a smooth paste. Dock the pastry with a fork to prevent it rising in the oven, place on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.

Mix all the topping ingredients together, and put to one side. Spread a layer of the sun-dried tomato paste on each tart, then cut each tomato into 5 or 6 slices and arrange on top. 

Season, then brush a little of the sun-dried tomato oil over the tomatoes and bake for about 10 minutes; then scatter the crumb mixture over the top and return to the oven for a couple of minutes; serve immediately.

Field Mushroom tart

Serves 4

Try to buy evenly-sized, medium field mushrooms for this, as they fit nicely on to the tart and ensure things look neat and appetising. If you can't get them in a size that fits the tart, make the tart fit the mushrooms by cutting it down to size with a sharp knife.

4 butter puff pastry rectangles, rolled to 3-4mm and cut to about 8x10cm
4 medium-sized, meaty field mushrooms
A little rapeseed or vegetable oil for cooking
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crumb topping (optional)

For the mushroom duxelle

2 shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A good knob of butter or a tbsp of rapeseed oil
100-120g button or open cup mushrooms, finely chopped

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Nice fit: Mark's field mushroom tart (Jason Lowe)


Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Dock the pastry with a fork to prevent it rising, place on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.

First make the mushroom duxelle, melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for a minute without colouring; add the chopped mushrooms, season and cook gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cut each of the field mushrooms into 4 or 5 slices on the angle, heat the oil in a frying pan and carefully cook the slices for about a minute on each side, seasoning them lightly as they begin to cook.

To assemble, spread the duxelle on to the tart cases, then arrange the mushroom slices on top, season, brush with a little oil from the pan and bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven at the same temperature as before. Again you can use the crumb topping, if you wish – just add it a couple of minutes before removing the tart from the oven and it will crisp up nicely and give added texture.

Full English tart

Serves 4

You can vary the topping on this as much as you fancy, but try and use things that you would traditionally have for breakfast, so things like black or white pudding, or sliced sausage. I've used a mixture of the sun-dried tomato base and the mushroom here, too, but if you prefer, just use one or the other.

4 butter puff pastry rectangles rolled to 3-4mm and cut to about 8x10cm
A mixture of the sun-dried tomato paste and the mushroom duxelle, or either one on their own
2 tomatoes, quartered
80-100g black pudding, broken into chunks
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
100g piece of streaky bacon cut into 1cm cubes or 4 rashers of streaky bacon
A little vegetable or corn oil for brushing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crumb topping (optional)

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You can vary the topping on Mark's Full English tart (Jason Lowe)


Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Dock the pastry with a fork to prevent it rising, place on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes; then remove from the oven. Put the tomatoes, mushrooms and bacon on a tray under a medium grill, brush the tomatoes with a little oil, season and cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove.

Spread the tomato paste (see tomato tart recipe above) on the puff pastry, then arrange the bacon, tomato and black pudding on top with half an egg. Quarter the egg if you wish. Brush with a little oil and bake for 8-10 minutes. You can scatter the crumb mixture over it, if you wish, a few minutes before removing it from the oven.

Sea Spinach and mushroom tart

Serves 4

I've used sea spinach here, but if you can't get it, use baby spinach.

4 butter puff pastry rectangles rolled to 3-4mm and cut to about 8x10cm
2 handfuls of small sea spinach or baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
100-120g button or oyster mushrooms, sliced
A couple of knobs of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml double cream
50g grated Cheddar
Crumb topping (optional)

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Sea spinach and mushroom tart (left) and tomato tart (Jason Lowe)


Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Dock the pastry with a fork to prevent it rising, place on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.

Melt the butter in a pan and gently cook the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, seasoning and stirring as they cook; stir in the spinach and cook for about a minute.

While the spinach and mushrooms are cooking, simmer the cream until it's reduced by two-thirds and thickened, stir in the cheese until it's melted; remove from the heat, transfer to a plate with some kitchen paper to absorb any juices, and leave to cool.

Spread the cheese mixture on the tarts, then spoon the spinach mixture on top. Bake for about 5-6 minutes, covering the spinach with foil so that it doesn't discolour.

Serve immediately.

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