Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Vegetable Tart

Pastry is easy, and this version using roasted parsnip is as easy as my other pastry recipes. There’s a crossover between the pastry and filling steps, but doing it all together means less preparation time overall.

The roasted parsnip pastry (thanks Steph!) is filled with layers of roast veg, chickpeas, spinach, and more, for a hearty and warmingly-spiced vegetarian main meal.

Serves: 10-12 as a starter, 4-6 as a main meal

Ingredients
For the pastry:

  • 1 medium/large parsnip, scrubbed (350-375g when weighed whole)
  • 185g plain flour, plus additional for rolling
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 60g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten (60-68g each when weighed in the shell)
  • Vegetable oil or cold butter to grease tin

For the filling:

  • 5 small or 3 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers, scrubbed
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed – but no need to peel
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in oil (any sized jar from 200g [undrained] up)
  • 2 dessert spoonfuls of runny honey
  • Ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend that can be bought with or without rose petals, to your taste); if you don’t have this, see the Spicing footnote
  • 100-125g baby spinach leaves (or large leaves, chopped very roughly)
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground turmeric
  • Beaten eggs (see Pastry Ingredients)
  • 50-75g feta cheese

Kit

  • Vegetable peeler
  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • 1 baking tray, lined with tin foil
  • Cooling rack
  • Potato masher (you could also use a mortar & pestle)
  • 1 medium/large mixing bowl, plus a small bowl for used baking beans
  • Plates/bowls for honey+oil, roast veg, spinach, chickpeas, and beaten eggs
  • Clingfilm
  • A round, loose-based pie/tart/flan tin: 24-25cm in diameter and at least 5cm deep
  • Baking/parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking beans or beads for blind-baking
  • Pastry brush
  • Colander or sieve for spinach and tinned chickpeas
  • Kitchen paper

Steps
Pre-roasting the veg for both pastry and filling:

  1. Preheat your oven to 220 C (200 C fan-assisted).
  2. Peel the parsnip. Halve the carrots lengthwise; quarter the parsnip and peppers lengthwise. Cram onto a foil-lined baking tray. Mix 3 dessert spoonfuls of sun-dried tomato jar oil with 2 dessert spoonfuls of runny honey in a small bowl and drizzle over the veg; dust with pinches of ras el hanout (see Spicing footnote).
  3. Bake until the parsnip is very squidgy, but the carrots and peppers are still al dente – i.e. a bit firm, but neither hard nor very soft. (You’ll probably pull out the peppers after 20-25 minutes, and leave the parsnip/carrots in for another 10 or so minutes.) Turn off your oven.
  4. Mash the roasted parsnip to a fine pulp, and let cool. Put the roasted peppers and carrots on a plate or in a bowl.

Making the pastry (see Pastry footnote):

  1. Mix the flour, white pepper, and ground almonds in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until you have a consistency like fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add 120g of cooled mashed parsnip, and mix with your hands just until fully combined. Pull it together into a ball – if it seems too terribly crumbly, add a pinch more parsnip just until the ball holds together. Flatten the pastry into a thick disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour (start Filling Step 1 now).
  3. When the pastry is chilled, reheat your oven to 190 C (170 C fan-assisted). Grease your tart tin and line with paper.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the chilled dough approximately the thickness of a pound coin, to fit the tin so the pastry goes all the way up the sides. If you’re using a fluted tin, ensure the pastry is pushed into each nook and cranny through the paper. Lightly prick it all over with a fork.
  5. Cover the pastry case with baking paper, and pour in baking beads/beans. Blind-bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Tip out the beads/beans into a small bowl and discard the covering paper. Return the tin to the oven, and bake for 10-12 more minutes until the pastry’s lightly browned.
  6. Remove the tin from the oven, and brush the pastry all over with beaten egg to seal it for the filling. Leave on a cooling rack.
  7. Turn your oven up to 200 C (180 C fan-assisted).

Making the filling:

  1. While the pastry is chilling, put the spinach in a sieve or colander. Heat up a full kettle to boiling and pour 1/2 over the spinach to blanch it. Leave to drain, then tip out onto a plate lined with kitchen paper; cover with more kitchen paper and blot to remove excess moisture.
  2. Put the tinned chickpeas in the same sieve or colander, pour the remaining boiled kettle water over; drain, and tip onto a plate / into a bowl.
  3. Chop or slice the roasted carrot and peppers, and 50-60g sun-dried tomatoes, either into bite-sized pieces or into thin slivers, and leave on plates / in bowls.
  4. When the pastry has been baked and sealed (go back to Pastry Step 3), start layering the filling ingredients. This part is up to you, but my tart went thus (press each layer down to avoid trapped air):
    Remaining mashed parsnip, mixed with 1 tsp ras el hanout, spread over the bottom of the tart casing.

    A layer of chickpeas

    A layer of spinach leaves

    1/4 tsp each ground cumin and ground cinnamon scattered over
    A layer of carrot, pepper, and sun-dried tomato

    1/4 tsp each ground ginger and turmeric scattered over
    Repeat until all chickpeas, spinach, carrot, pepper, and tomatoes are used and/or your pastry case is almost full (try to end with a layer of spinach)

    Pour over the remaining beaten eggs, and smooth as necessary to ensure they soak down evenly
    Crumble over bits of feta cheese to cover the top about 3/4 full

    Scatter 1 tsp ras el hanout evenly over the cheese topping
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese has gone nicely brown. Remove the tin from the oven to a cooling rack.
  6. Serve hot, warm, or even cold. If you want to ‘up’ the Moroccan taste level, dust each serving with more ras el hanout.
  7. This tart can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for at least 3-4 days.

Pastry Notes
You don’t want the dough to be too damp, even though wetter pastry is easier to handle – it can be really tough in the baked tart, and it can also shrink out of shape when baked. Err on the side of just a teeny bit too crumbly – you’ll work it together when you roll it out, and you can always patch up in the tin.

Spicing
If you don’t have ras el hanout, don’t sweat it. You can create your own Moroccan spice blend from any of ras’s main components, which are (in descending order) usually as below.
OR – just put together ground ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, and turmeric with salt/pepper and whatever else you have readily available.
Ground ginger
Paprika
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Sugar
Salt
Ground turmeric
Ground chilli powder
Ground black pepper
Ground allspice
Ground cardamom
Ground nutmeg
Dried rose petals (optional)

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