For World Environment Day on June 5th I was invited to take part in a collaboration making plant based, sustainable meals, and this is the one I came up with. Everything , or very nearly, was locally sourced from local farmers or foraged by Little One and I. After a visit to a local farmer, where I picked up yellow carrots, I started playing around with ideas of what I could make using those. Then there was local barley from the mountains on sale in the grocery store, so I decided on a tart, grinding the barley for the crust. For the other components of the tart I decided to go pick nettles for a pesto, which eventually ended up being nettle and dandelion, and to make ricotta with milk from the local dairy. I found other edible wild flowers too, so those were incorporated into the plan. I am really glad that I agreed to take part in that collaboration as otherwise I wouldn't have necessarily put all these components together, and it was really fun and came out super tasty!
For the crust:
1 c barley flower (I ground up whole barley in the coffee grinder)
1 1/4 c whole meal flour
1/4 - 1/3 c cold butter
1/3 c milk
For the pesto:
3-4 c nettles, washed in vinegar and then steamed til just wilted
1-2 c dandelion leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
a little water
Salt and pepper to taste
For the tart:
7-8 yellow carrots, quartered or eighthed lengthwise
1 c pesto
1/2 - 1 c ricotta OR Goat cheese
1-2 tsp wild thyme
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Wild flowers to top:
1) Make the crust: Place flour and barley flour in a bowl and cut in the butter in small dice. Rub butter into the flower with fingertips until a crumby mixture forms. Add milk and mix until just combined. Chill 30 minutes.
2) Make the pesto. Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste test. Dandelion leaves can be a little bitter, so add some lemon juice to counterbalance this if necessary.
3) Assemble the tart. Roll out the crust to the size of your tart plate, and line the bottom of the dish with it. Spread the pesto over the base and then arrange the carrots over the top radially. Dollop the honey and drizzle the olive oil over the carrots. Mix the wild thyme into the ricotta and then spread the ricotta over the carrots. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 190°C for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the carrots are tender but not soft.
4) Allow to cool a little and arrange the wild flowers over the top (optional).
This was beautiful! All the flavours balanced each other beautifully, with the bitter dandelions and sweet carrots and honey and the acidic lemon and the creamy cheese. The tart was hot, the flowers fresh, the pesto deep, the lemon bright. And the colours truly popped! Eating it, it occurred to me that goat cheese could work very nicely on it, so when we heated it up on day 2 I added some and it did indeed work very nicely. Otherwise, more ricotta could be nice but is certainly not essential.
I was really interested to see how the crust would come out. I don't often cook with non-wheat flours, and some I have used, like rice flour, I am not a fan of. Grinding my own grain into flour was certainly a first too. It came out very well. A little toothier than regular crust because there's only so fine I can get flour in a coffee grinder, and a little sweeter. It was a bit darker too, and I must say that it came out looking a little rustic (which matched the wild flowers, so that's fine.) The only potential change I would make otherwise would be to begin roasting the carrots ahead of time, or parboil them next time to kick start their cooking process. Otherwise, I am thoroughly delighted with this dish, as were Hubby and Little One.