Using lemon thyme in place of regular thyme in this simple, rustic Lemon Thyme & Leek Tart is a fantastic idea that lifts it from delicious to genius level! The recipe is from Mark Diacono’s Herb: A Cook’s Companion and is a perfect example of how judicious use of the right herbs makes all the difference to the final dish.
This charming cookbook is not only full of tasty recipes to make the most of a wide range of herbs, it’s also a great resource for gardeners wishing to grow their own herbs for use in the kitchen. Read our full review of Herb by Mark Diacono, here.
Lemon Thyme & Leek Tart
A sublime lunch or dinner that beautifully illustrates the power of the tweak. Make this with common thyme, lemon thyme or orange thyme and that slight shift in bias makes three very different tarts. Lemon thyme makes the sunniest, orange thyme is altogether more resinous and autumnal, and common thyme gives a tart you could eat for breakfast, lunch and tea and not tire of it. You could make this with onion rather than leeks, and in a tart tin if you prefer. A swizz of herb oil or picada to serve is a fine option.
For the pastry
- 250 g (9oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus a little more for rolling
- pinch of salt
- 150 g (5oz) butter, cubed
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 1 tsp picked lemon thyme leaves
For the filling
- 30 g (1oz) butter
- 500 g (1lb 2oz) leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 medium eggs
- 150 g (5oz) sour cream or crème fraîche
- 1 tbsp picked lemon thyme leaves
- ¼ whole nutmeg or to taste, grated
- 20 g (¾oz) Parmesan or Cheddar cheese, grated
- sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
For the pastry, put the flour, salt and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture just comes together. (Alternatively, mix the butter into the flour and salt in a bowl using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the egg and mix to form a dough.) Bring the dough together with your hands, adding the thyme leaves, and shape into a round. Cling film (plastic wrap) the pastry and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a pan over a low-medium heat, add the leeks and bay leaves and cook for 15 minutes until really soft and sweet. Allow to cool a little.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, then scoop out a couple of tablespoons of beaten egg to glaze later. Add the sour cream, thyme leaves and nutmeg to the bowl. Stir in the leeks and season to taste.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to a circle about 3mm (1∕8 in) thick, leaving no gaps or holes. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking sheet, and put the circle of pastry on to it. Spoon the creamy leeks on top, spreading it out evenly and leaving a 1–2cm (½–¾in) gap around the edge. Fold the edge of the pastry over to create a lip. Nudge the bay leaves to the top. Glaze all exposed pastry with the reserved egg and sprinkle the cheese over the top of the filling.
Place the tart in the oven on a middle shelf and bake for 35–40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and pale golden and the tart filling is set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 or so minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.
Making this was the first time we bought and used lemon thyme and we’re immediate full-on fans. I’m so pleased we bought a potted plant rather than a bunch of cut herbs, as we can plant it out in our garden with the hope that it’ll survive and thrive long into the future.
The tart is also very good the next day, reheated in the oven or using a microwave.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Herb: A Cook’s Companion by Mark Diacono from publisher Quadrille (RRP £26). Recipe extracted with permission of publisher.