Celebrating the final throes of beetroot season, this beetroot and goat’s cheese tart is a perfect vegetarian Christmas starter option, showcasing a classic pairing. It can also be made vegan by substituting the goat’s cheese for an animal-free alternative, or by ditching it altogether.
Having reported a 105 per cent spike in vegan orders since last November, new research from Deliveroo suggests as many as 20 per cent of Brits intend on eating a vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner this year. The poll, which involved 2,000 respondents, also found that almost 60 per cent of those deciding to go plant-based for Christmas had made the transition within the past four years, with many citing their reasons for going meatless as expecting to cater for other vegans and vegetarians.
Until quite recently, however, vegetarian and vegan Christmas options have tended to come across as an afterthought: a shame considering there are so many opportunities to present vegetarian and vegan guests with highly impressive, cruelty-free alternatives. And while a huge number of meat-free mains are available, it’s important to remember that vegan or vegetarian starter options are also important, regardless of them being less talked about.
Once upon a time, goat’s cheese and red onion tarts were a thoughtless, clumsy option for vegetarians in lacklustre restaurants. This version strays away from the notion of claggy pastry and overpowering onion, with the red onion actually adding some sweetness to the tart alongside the beetroot, while a splash of Balsamic vinegar lends some zing alongside the goat’s cheese, ultimately balancing everything out. Puff pastry is ideal here, but filo pastry can also be used, as can short crust at a push. I like to make individual tarts – like large vol au vents – but one larger tart can also be made and sliced if you’d rather. Optionally finish with a handful of hazelnuts and a drizzle of good quality honey.
Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Tart
- 2-3 red onions finely sliced
- 200 g raw beetroot peeled and grated
- 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves picked (alternatively use 1tsp dried thyme)
- 100 g goat’s cheese crumbled or torn into small pieces
- 1-2 sheets puff pastry shop bought is perfect
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped, to garnish
- Neutral cooking oil
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
- Heat a splash of oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and add the onions. Gently cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.
- Add the grated beetroot to the pan and continue to cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the Balsamic vinegar into the pan, plus the thyme, and increase the heat to medium-high. Continue to cook, stirring often, for around five minutes until most of the vinegar smell has dispersed and the beetroot/onion mixture is soft. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the goat’s cheese.
- Meanwhile, roll out the pastry and use a cutter or knife to portion into tarts with the size dependent on your preference. Lightly score a border (approx. 1cm) around the edge of each pastry case, then prick within the border all over using a fork. Egg wash all over, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and risen.
- Remove the pastry cases from the oven and gently push down the centres, inside the border.
- Spoon some of the beetroot mixture into the pastry cases, then top with the remaining goat’s cheese crumbled evenly between the tarts. Bake in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, garnish with chopped parsley, and leave to cool slightly before eating.
Related: How To Make: Vegan Squash Wellington