Simply irresistible basil and parmesan tart

With its seductively smooth and voluptuous filling, this is an irresistible tart, says Joan Bishop.

The biscuit crumb and ground-almond crust contrasts superbly with the creamy topping, enriched with basil's warm fragrant spiciness and parmesan's strong rich, roundness.

This is my current favourite - as well as tasting superb it looks beautiful.

An elegant, pale chartreuse-coloured tart with a nut brown crust.

It is easy to make and can be assembled and cooked a day ahead of serving. Lovely for lunch, I usually serve it with a grape and chickpea salad.

Well chilled and very thinly sliced it is quite perfect to serve with pre-dinner drinks.

PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Basil and parmesan tart

Serves 6-8 as a lunch dish

Base

130g savoury biscuits (I use Pams Sesame Crackers)
60g ground almonds
60g melted butter

Filling

100g spinach leaves stripped from stalks
250g cottage cheese (not low fat)
250g sour cream (not low fat)
4 large eggs, size 7
½ a cup of basil pesto
50g (½ cup) grated parmesan cheese

Garnish

fresh basil and mint leaves, finely chopped

Method

Heat the oven to 160degC. Spray a 23cm spring form cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

For the base (crust), blitz the biscuits in a food processor until finely crumbed. Add the ground almonds and the melted butter. Process again until thoroughly mixed. Press this mixture firmly over the base and about 1cm up the side of the cake tin to create a crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.

For the filling

Bring a pot of lightly-salted water to the boil, add the spinach leaves and stir for a few seconds. After 30 seconds drain in a colander and gently run cold water over it. Once it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water. You want around 60g cooked spinach. Set spinach aside.

Give the food processor a quick wash and dry. Place the cottage cheese in the bowl of the food processor and process for a minute or two until all the little lumpy bits (the curds) have gone.

Don't be tempted to add other ingredients to the cottage cheese until it is completely smooth.

Once smooth, add the sour cream and eggs and process until well combined

Then add the spinach, basil pesto and the parmesan and whizz to mix.

Gently pour into the crust, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the mixture sets.

The centre of the tart should be lightly set and wobble just a little in the middle when the cake tin is shaken. The tart will continue to cook in it's own heat and thicken a little more as it cools. Don't overcook.

Remove from the oven and leave the tart to settle in the tin until almost completely cool.

Loosen the sides by running a knife around the edges. Lift the tart from the tin, slide on to an attractive flat serving platter, and garnish with chopped basil or mint.

Slice and serve at room temperature.

 

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