Easter Feast: Egg and Spring Vegetable Tart

Mothering Sunday, Easter Sunday… we all know the best thing about these holidays—family gatherings aside—is the food. It doesn’t get any better than sitting around with the nearest and dearest chatting, quaffing and scoffing until your heart—and stomach—is content. But this year instead of giving in to the standard Sunday roast, we’re trying a fresher, lighter cooking concept from Anna Jones’s The Modern Cook’s Year.

Anna Jones’s The Modern Cook’s Year boasts plenty of crave-worthy, flavour-packed eats—and not just for special Sunday’s, but for all year round (clue’s in the name). With over 250 delicious treats to choose from, we asked Anna to pick out one easy recipe to refresh our tired celebratory menus—and in keeping with the holiday spirit, one that’s close to her heart and home.

Delicious, share-worthy and perfect for warm spring days, here Anna reveals the recipe for her egg and spring vegetable tart.

I first made this egg tart around Easter, my mum’s favourite time of year. There’s  an optimism around these months and I want the food I make to reflect that. It’s a tart to sit down around a table and share. Now I make this all through spring and summer, varying the vegetables as different things come into season – peas and leeks one time, asparagus and broad beans the next.

- Anna Jones

‘’Most years I have in fact made two tarts, one as the recipe reads and a vegan version for my brother (most puff pastry is actually vegan, as it uses oil rather than butter), and I top it with a quick cashew cream. For the non-vegans I use ready rolled all-butter puff pastry but if you buy a block or make your own, roll it out to just bigger than an A4 piece of paper, to about the thickness of a pound coin.

‘’This tart is most delicious eaten straight out of the oven, and the eggs are best cracked over just before baking, so if you want to get ahead I’d suggest making the tart and topping it with everything but the eggs and adding them just before it goes in the oven. I like to double-pod my broad beans, but if you buy baby ones they will be sweet and you might not need to. I serve this with a simple lemon­-dressed green salad and some buttered new potatoes.’’

What you’ll need

  • 6 organic eggs, refrigerated
  • 320g puff pastry
  • 8 spring onions, trimmed
  • 6 baby courgettes, halved lengthways
  • Olive oil
  • 100g small podded broad beans (400g unpodded)
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Soft herbs (chives, parsley, chervil, tarragon)
  • Toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

How it’s made

  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Crack one of the eggs into a cup with a big pinch of salt, beat well and leave to one side. Fill and boil the kettle.
  2. Spread your puff pastry out onto a cold baking tray, roll the pastry out a little bigger than an A4-sized piece of paper, then trim a 1cm strip from each side and put to one side. Working quickly, prick the base all over with a fork and lightly brush with a beaten egg. Put the trimmed pastry pieces back on the base along each edge, forming a raised edge that will keep the filling in. Egg wash the top of those too.
  3. Put the spring onions and baby courgettes on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake, along with the puff pastry case, for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are golden and the pastry is really crispy.
  4. Meanwhile, pour a little boiling water over the broad beans, allow to cool, then pop each one out of its tough outer skin, leaving the bright green bean. If you have small young broad beans there’s no need to do this—you can use them as they are.
  5. As soon as the pastry comes out of the oven, press down the middle rectangle of the base (which will have puffed up a little), leaving yourself a nice border around the outside.
  6. Mix the creme fraiche with the mustard and a little salt and pepper and spread it over the crispy pastry, keeping it within the border. Arrange the courgettes and spring onions over the top, then make four little spaces to crack the eggs into. Stop here if you are preparing the tart in advance, then cover and keep it in the fridge.
  7. When you are nearly ready to eat, take the eggs out of the fridge and very carefully crack each one into a little cup. As an egg ages, some of the white turns watery and you want to lose this bit, leaving only the freshest part; it means the white will hold its shape during the cooking and won’t run all over the tart. Pour the first egg into your cupped hand, with your fingers closed, and let the very watery part of the white drain off. Gently place the egg in one of the spaces, repeating with the other three, then sprinkle over the broad beans and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still a little soft.
  8. Remove the tart from the oven, grate over the zest of the lemon and scatter over the herbs and hazelnuts—and serve!

Fancy feasting every day of the year? Pick up a copy of Anna Jones’ The Modern Cook’s Year here.