I am a huge lover of Summer as I think most Britains are (there's only so much rain we can take!). And for me, alongside the classic barbie, this tart is possibly the epitomy of what I love so much about food in Summer (except there is no ice cream in sight). Minted courgette strips with my favourite green vegetable, asparagus, salty Greek feta cheese and mellow lemon zest, it's like tasting a garden in the height of Summer.
I like to cook seasonally and right now this is, but it doesn't mean it can't be cooked seasonally all year round. You could swap out the asparagus for chard in Autumn or try it with Brussels sprouts in Winter, there are lots of opportunities to be had with this dish. And grilling the vegetables till charred before you bake them adds a great depth of flavour with their smoky taste.
I may have also used this dish as an excuse to trim back my mint plant and use its leaves. As the large window in our living room acts like a green house, our herbs are growing out of control, especially the mint and Vietnamese coriander. When we bought the Vietnamese coriander he was the same height as all our other plants, but no word of a lie he's not far after a metre (I've had to trim and repot him twice!). I'm not entirely sure why he's a he...
(serves 4 for lunch or 2 for dinner, both with salad)
250g puff pastry
100g young asparagus spears
Half a courgette sliced lengthways
A handful of mint leaves
Zest and juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle and place on a lined baking sheet.
Step 2. Heat a griddle pan on a medium to high heat. While heating the pan take your courgette and with a peeler, peel half of it lengthways so you have long thin strips (I turned the courgette as I did this so I would have the skin on every strip to add some colour colour).
Step 3. Season the courgette strips and asparagus spears with salt and pepper (if your spears look a bit woody at the bottom you can cut that section off, alternatively you can always cut the spears in half lengthways) and toss them in a little olive oil. By lightly coating them in oil and not adding it to the grill pan you are preventing the vegetables from sticking but not frying them.
Step 4. Once the pan is hot place the vegetables in it perpendicular to the direction of the griddle marks, making sure the vegetables have enough room between each other. You only want to grill the courgette for less than a minute on each side till you get the black griddle lines on them, likewise you don't want the asparagus to be completely cooked or lose their snap so only cook them till their stripy.
Step 5. Finely chop half of the mint and mix it by hand with the courgette, asparagus, and lemon juice and zest. Arrange the asparagus spears and courgette on the rolled out pastry leaving a 1cm edge on each side. Crumble the feta over the tart, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Step 6. When cooked, remove the tart from the oven and serve hot or cold with the remaining torn mint leaves and a large pile of salad.