I was very lucky to get to visit River Cottage HQ and their canteen in Axminster this week – what struck me above all was the passion for the very best simple, seasonal food and a deep commitment to fostering food empathy (though perhaps they don’t call it that). Here’s one of my favourite seasonal recipes from River Cottage Every Day.
• 250g plain flour
• A pinch of sea salt
• 125g chilled unsalted butter,
• cut into small cubes
• About 75ml cold milk
• Tops from a bunch of beetroot or a bunch of ruby or rainbow chard (about 300g in all)
• 1 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
• 1 large onion, sliced
• A handful of thyme sprigs, leaves only, chopped
• 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
• 100g ricotta, finely crumbled
• 2 large eggs, plus 2 extra egg yolks
• 200ml double cream
• 200ml whole milk
• Sea salt and freshly ground
• black pepper
Make the pastry, rest, then use to line a 25cm tart tin and bake blind. To make the filling, chop the stalks from the beet tops or chard and shred the leaves. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion with the thyme and sweat gently for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and chopped beet or chard stalks. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the stalks are tender.
Add the shredded leaves and cook for another 5 minutes or so until the leaves have wilted right down. Season well with salt and pepper. Spread the leafy mixture in the tart case. Scatter the crumbled ricotta over the top. Lightly beat the eggs, egg yolks, cream and milk together in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Carefully pour this mixture over the tart filling. Bake the tart at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for about 35 minutes until golden. Serve warm or cold.