Despite the (hopefully sarcastic) pleas of my friends, I have no desire to ever enter Come Dine With Me – the dinner-party-show-cum-torture-device, as (quite apart from the inherent humiliation involved) dinner parties are really not ‘me’ – I simply cannot remember the last time I produced a formal, three-course meal. If I ever WERE to give in however, this is definitely the dish I’d make, being super-easy to make ahead, deliciously tasty and with lots of wow-factor. And if you’re not the dinner party type either, it makes a fabulous light lunch and surprisingly enough even travels well (chilled) for picnics or packed lunches!
Beetroot tartlets with chilled pea cream
350g raw beetroot
2 medium white onions, peeled & finely sliced
Butter, for frying
30g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
a few thyme sprigs
1 x 375g pack all-butter puff pastry
100g frozen peas
100ml double cream
75g hard goats cheese
You will also need 6 x 9cm diameter tartlet moulds/tins, lightly greased with butter or oil.
Peel and coarsely grate all but two of the beetroots. Place the reserved beets in a small saucepan, cover with water and boil until tender – around 45 minutes. Meanwhile soften the onion and grated beetroot with a couple of sprigs of thyme in a large frying pan with a generous knob of butter on a low heat until tender. Add the sugar and vinegar, season with salt & pepper and turn the heat right up, cooking for a few minutes until starting to caramelise. Set aside to cool.
When your boiled beetroots are done, drain and allow to cool a little until you can handle them, then peel and cut into 1/2 cm-thick slices. Place one large slice into each tartlet mould, and roughly chop any leftover beetroot flesh and add to the beetroot-onion mixture.
Divide the beetroot-onion mixture between the tartlet tins, pressing down firmly with a spoon to make it nice and tightly packed. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until you have a large enough rectangle to cut 6 discs the same size as your tartlet tins – remember that you cannot re-roll puff pastry the way you can shortcrust! Use a pastry cutter (or a tea-cup and a knife) to cut out the discs, and lay the pastry on top of the beetroot mixture. Gently push down at the edges of the pastry to ensure it’s pointing downwards into the tin and isn’t flush with the edge (otherwise they can leak everywhere!). Chill for at least 30 minutes to give the pastry a chance to firm up, meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.
Place the beetroot tarts on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Meanwhile use a stick blender to puree the frozen peas and cream together to make an almost-smooth puree. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, lemon juice and maybe a pinch of sugar if the peas need a little extra sweetness. Keep chilled until you’re ready to serve.
To serve, invert a tartlet onto your serving plate, crumble over a little goat’s cheese and top with a spoonful of chilled pea cream.