There is really nothing like catching up with friends and family over a long summer’s evening dinner. A friend of mine cooked me a version of this recipe and we caught up over a couple of bottles of wine after not seeing each other for many years. Since that night she has regularly cooked me this gorgeous tart and we reminisce over our ill-spent days in NUIG, Vokda and Orange in Bransky’s and five quid into Liquid on a Thursday night. I have had so many times where I’ve sat talking well into the night with some of my favourite people munching this gorgeous tart. I made this for my Mum and Aunt and they both gushed over how it was the nicest meal they’d had EVER. My Mum did ensure she told me as I was about to plate up that she didn’t like things “too eggy”. I don’t either – and it’s not. It’s a real fail safe go-to for having friends over and is a springtime/summer staple. I love eating this outdoors with a large glass of white wine on a summer’s evening. If having a dinner party you can easily double the amounts.
Spinach and Gruyère Tart with Summer Salad
Pre-rolled short crust pastry (or make your own if you’re a sucker for punishment) – BLIND BAKE at 180 before hand)
½ bag of fresh spinach – remove stalkey bits if not using baby spinach
100g Sorrel (optional)
Grated fresh nutmeg
350g grated Swiss Gruyère cheese – Fallong & Byrne and Sheridans both have a lovely aged Gruyère
Salt and pepper
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted
Lightly grease a large tart tin (approx 20”)
After blind baking the pastry at 180 degrees, set oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.
Blanch the sorrel (if using) and spinach together in boiling water for a few seconds and then drain and squeeze the living daylights out of it, you can use a clean tea towel. I use cheesecloth which you can buy cheaply in the baby section of Tesco beside the nappies. Its invaluable and I use it for making almond milk when I’m feeling brave/silly. Once the spinach is squeezed to death, chop it roughly and set aside in a bowl.
Beat the eggs, add the cream & grate in a good couple of pinches of nutmeg . Mix well, add the cheese and season really well. Lightly toast the pine nuts… then add the nuts and the spinach to the mixture.
Patch any gaps in the pastry after blind baking with leftover scraps.
Spoon filling into the tart and bake for 12-15 minutes. The topping should be golden brown. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT STEP. You wont want to leave it to cool because it smells awesome. Dont be seduced by your stomach! It’s so much nicer when its cool and the egg sets. My mother complained of the starvation the entire time. Don’t listen to the whingers. Carefully remove from the tin and serve with a crisp green salad with veg of your choosing – I use spinach that’s leftover, a few pine nuts, a fresh green salad bag or fresh salad leaves from your veg box, avocado, red onion, spring onion, finely sliced red pepper and cherry tomatoes.
The dressing is olive oil, honey and grainy mustard. Plus loads of black pepper. Pop the dressing into a jar or bowl and either whisk or shake the hell out of it until the oil emulsifies (goes cloudy). The salad goes PERFECTLY with the tart so do give it a go. Its delicious.
Serve with a very large glass of wine to someone who you need to catch up with.
Ciara O’Connor is an avid amateur cook and veggie. She works for Women’s Aid as a project leader and have been working in women’s health for many years (previously working in reproductive rights with IFPA). In my spare time she likes to read, cook, drink wine, and am a student homeopath, sometimes cabaret performer and occasional yogi. Follow her on Twitter: @ciara_oc