I have never been a big fan of savoury tarts. The kind I’ve always been served in Italy, where it dominates the savoury side of any self-respecting party catering, is usually an unattractive concoction of chopped, randomly chosen ingredients drowned in a sea of eggs and encased in soggy layers of underbaked puff pastry. Easily prepared but not easily forgotten (for the wrong reasons). Then I arrived in England and it seemed that the password that opened the magical doors to savoury tarts stardom was quiche. From endless variations to the traditional quiche lorraine to Asian-inspired twists on it, it seemed that anything could be forgiven as long as it was swimming in a baked lake of eggs and cream, and lots of it. Despite its omniprescence in deli menus and celebrity chef’s TV programmes, I tried it onlyonce and wasn’t impressed. I finally decided to give savoury tarts a go and, oh boy, I’m so glad I did! I tweaked a lovely recipe from a fellow blogger and turned it into a seasonal, Lancashire themed one. The crust (I call it crust because it’s not a pastry) is the simplest thing you could imagine. No eggs, no butter, no resting time in the fridge. The purple sprouting florets colour the onion with their sensual hue (past readers may remember how much we love this colour here at FC&G) and the complex, salty flavour of the Lancashire cheese is just the icing on the tartlet (if you’ll excuse the pun).
Start with the crust. Preheat oven to 175°C, then mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined and press into the tartlet tins. Make sure the crumbs are evenly distributed and well pressed, especially in the corners and on the sides of the tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. If the base of the crust has puffed up while in the oven, as soon as you take the tartlets out, press it gently down with the back of a spoon. While the crust is in the oven, prepare the filling. Pour the oil in a pan and when it warms up add the onions. Cook them for a few minutes, until soft but not brown. Chop the purple sprouting into very small pieces and tip them in the pan along with the garlic. Sautée the vegetables for about 10 minutes. Try a piece of sprouting stalk: if it cooked but it still has a bite to it, they’re done. Tip the vegetables in a mixing bowl and wait a few minutes until partially cooled down. Add the cheese crumbs and the eggs to the mixture, and mix very well. Spoon about 2 heaped tbsp of the mixture into each tartlet crust, pressing lightly. Bake for about 20 minutes. Take care when extracting the tartlets from their tins, as the crust is very crumbly.