Fresh Herb Tart

This really delicious fresh herb tart is a modern attempt at recapturing the sumptuous mix of herbs that characterised the gardens of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In those days, the herb garden was often the only garden, and many plants, flowers and 'weeds' were primarily classified as herbs because of their many uses. Although the mix of herbs here is a modern one, the opportunity is there to use any combination. Dill would be an interesting alternative. It is one of the oldest herbs and was used by magicians in casting their spells. Parsley is used in both the pastry and filling and you can use the flat-leafed variety if that is easier to find.
Try to use only fresh herbs but dried herbs can be used as a last resort. Perhaps more than any other tart, this one illustrates how herbs can very gently release their unique aromas into the cooking.


serves 4 - 6
175 g (6 oz) plain shortcrust pastry, rolled out in some finely chopped parsley
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme,
oregano or marjoram
3 eggs
225 ml (8 fl oz) double cream
50 ml (2 fl oz) milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
115 g (4 oz) grated Cheddar cheese


1. Line a shallow 23 cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

3. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion, spring onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the herbs and allow to cool.

4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs very lightly, then add the cream and milk and season with salt and pepper. Add three-quarters of the cheese to the egg mixture.

5. Spread the onion and herb mixture in the pre-baked pastry case and cover with the egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

6. Bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until it has a good golden brown colour.

7. Serve hot or cold, on its own, with a salad, or as a substitute for potatoes or other vegetables with a main meal.

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