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Seventeenth-century Broad Bean Tart

The broad bean is believed to be the original bean of Europe. Most major archaeological sites contain the remains of the broad bean which, because of its widespread distribution and capacity for being dried and transported, was a staple food, especially for the poor. Young beans were eaten raw in some countries, while older beans those with the black spot - were only fit for boiling and then passing through a sieve to leave the tough skin behind.
Superstition surrounds the broad bean and there are numerous stories of avoidance and refusal to eat them, the commonest reason being that the souls of the dead migrate into them. But, in spite of such legends, there are many people today who are addicted to the broad bean.
The crisp texture of the uncooked bean gives this tart an unexpected crunchiness. However, you can pre-cook the broad beans if you prefer. Some cooks also prefer to skin the beans before final cooking. After all, this is not just a tart for bean addicts but for all who like a colourful tart.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
175 g (6 oz) plain shortcrust pastry, made using half white and half wholemeal flour
4 tablespoons creme fraiche
juice of 1 lemon
350 g (12 oz) fresh or frozen (defrosted) broad beans
2 eggs, beaten
large handful of chopped fresh chives (about 2 tablespoons)
55 g (2 oz) ham, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper

method

1. Line a shallow 23 cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

3. Place the creme fraiche, lemon juice and two-thirds of the broad beans in a food processor and whizz up until it forms a green mush.

4. Spoon the mixture into a bowl, add the eggs, chives, ham and remaining beans and stir to mix. Season well with salt and pepper.

5. Spoon the mixture into the pre-baked pastry case and bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until set.

6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cook's Tip -This tart will serve 8 -10 as a starter or vegetable dish. For a starter, serve the tart with a dollop of creme fraiche, to which has been added lemon juice, chopped chives and seasoning. As a vegetable dish, serve this tart warm or cold as part of a buffet.

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