- Preparation and cooking time
- Prep:25 mins
- Cook:1 hr and 30 mins
- Serves 8
- 320g sheet ready-rolled shortcrust
- 2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 50g grated vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese, plus 2 tbsp
- ½-1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 500g frozen spinach, defrosted
- 50g butter
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked, plus extra to serve
- 125g mascarpone
- grating of nutmeg
- 150g vegetarian mature cheddar, grated
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 tbsp breadcrumbs
- STEP 1
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Unravel the pastry on a lightly floured work surface, and sprinkle the 2 tbsp of hard cheese over one half of the pastry along with ½ tsp cayenne and a crack of black pepper. Fold the other half of the pastry over to close it like a book, and roll out, squashing the cheese in the middle, until it fits into a 22cm tart tin with an overhang. Prick the base with a fork, cover with a sheet of parchment and fill with baking beans. Cook for 15 mins, then remove the parchment and beans. Bake for 10-15 mins until lightly golden, then leave to cool in the tin.
- STEP 2
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Spoon small piles of the remaining hard cheese (about 16) in a thin layer onto the sheet, then bake for 5-7 mins until bubbling and melted. As soon as they look lacy, remove from the oven or they will burn quite quickly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and crisp up. Will keep in an airtight container for two days.
- STEP 3
Put the spinach in a sieve over a clean bowl, and squeeze well with the back of a spoon. Keep the liquid.
- STEP 4
Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan and fry the shallots with a pinch of salt for 10 mins. Stir in the garlic, thyme and 2 tbsp flour, then pour in 250ml of the spinach water, boiling for 1-2 mins. Stir in the mascarpone, nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne, and cook for 5 mins.
- STEP 5
Fold through the cheddar and spinach, tip into a bowl and leave to cool for 5-10 mins. Stir in the eggs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tart case, then pour in the filling. Bake for 35-40 mins until golden. Leave to cool a little before topping with thyme and the cheesy crisps.