Summer Picnic Tart with Crunchy Snap Pea Salad
This summery tart packed with sharp cheddar, leek and zucchini is encased in a crunchy oatmeal crust that just happens to be gluten free. Perfect for picnics as you can pile the crunchy snap pea salad right on top — no need for plates or forks.
stillness • main course • spring / SUMMER
All of the best meals I’ve ever eaten have been eaten out of doors.
There was the Cornish pasty I ate in Marazion, Cornwall in the misting fog blowing in off the sea. After walking miles in the rain, the warmth of the pasty in my hands with the gulls cawing above was restorative in a way I cannot recall a meal being before or since.
Or the birthday breakfast under a sprawling oak in early June; strawberries and croissants and a thermos of tea shared between friends as we gazed up through the gnarled branches and felt the morning sun on our faces.
It isn’t that these conditions are the most comfortable or ideal; indeed eating outdoors is usually fraught with challenges — roots digging into your backside, ants, wind, rain — all the elements making themselves obnoxiously present. Yet, I think it is precisely because of this that the food tastes so amazingly good. The magic of contrast.
This is why I love picnics so much. They turn the very act of eating into an adventure. The change in scenery, being out in the elements, just seems to heighten everything — the flavor, the joy of eating, the feeling of being alive. And it’s all those little elements of chaos — the wind blowing away the napkins, the ants marching towards your sandwich — that make the experience so worthy of remembrance. Just so, it’s the cold air that makes a steaming cup of tea taste so comforting, or the intense summer heat that makes a dripping slice of melon so irresistibly refreshing. A bit of contrast is the greatest of seasonings.
This tart is built for picnicking. The oatmeal crust, reinforced with a little egg, is as durable as it is delicious, with a cracker like crunch that can stand up to a bit of jostling about in a picnic basket. The salad — crisp snap peas lightly dressed to let their natural sweetness really shine — can be piled atop the tart so there is no need to fiddle around with plates or even forks or knives if you don’t want to.
The tart is jam packed with leek, sharp cheddar cheese and grated zucchini (which, let’s face it, we all have more than we know what to do with this time of year), but you can easily sub in whatever vegetables you happen to have rattling around in your crisper. I’ve provided some good alternatives for you in the notes below the recipe.
Now all you’ve left to do is find a good basket, a blanket and place to sprawl out on a blanket. With any luck, the sense of adventure will show up all on its own.
Summer picnic tart with crunchy snap pea salad
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
For the crust:
1.5 cups (150 g) GF rolled oats
4 tbsp butter
1 egg, beaten
leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
For the filling:
1 tbsp butter
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced into half moons
1 medium zucchini (135 - 150 g), shredded*
a few sprigs fresh thyme
3 eggs, beaten
5 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (60 g) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
freshly grated black pepper
For the crunchy snap pea salad:
6 oz sugar snap peas
a large handful of pea shoots (substitute baby spinach or arugula of pea shoots aren’t available)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt
For the crust:
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Place the oats in a food processor (that’s an affiliate link) and process until you’ve created a coarse flour.
Add the butter, egg, thyme and salt and process again until the mixture begins to clump together into a ball.
Dip your hands in water so they are nice and wet and then, using your palm and fingertips, press the mixture into a 9.5 inch tart pan , working your way across the base and up the sides until you have a nice, even distribution. If the dough begins to stick to your hands at any point, simply wet them again and keep working.
Once the pastry is evenly distributed across the bottom and sides, prick the bottom with a fork and place in the oven.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool and leave the oven going.
For the Filling:
In a large skillet, melt the tablespoon of butter over moderate heat.
To clean your leek, slice in half lengthwise and then, under a running tap, peel back the individual layers to rinse away the dirt lodged in-between. Slice the leek into thin, half moons and then add to the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes or so, until the leek has begun to soften.
Shred your zucchini (*shredding is done on the larger sized holes on your grater) and add this to the pan, along with the salt and a few gratings of black pepper. Strip the leaves from your sprigs of time as well and add this to the pan. Continue cooking for two to three minutes and then remove from the heat.
In a bowl, add the zucchini and leek mixture, your beaten eggs, heavy cream, salt, nutmeg and black pepper. Stir to combine and then fold through the grated sharp cheddar.
Carefully pour the mixture into the pastry case and return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is just beginning to turn golden brown in places.
Allow to cool, and the remove from the tin before slicing. Note: I like to do this by setting the tart on top of an upside down mason jar. With a little luck, it should slide right off — but in the case that it doesn’t, carefully loosen the sides using a knife until the tin comes loose.
For the snap pea salad:
Trim the ends from the peas and add them to a mixing bowl along with the pea shoots.
Mix together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the peas, mixing with your hands to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed. Check for seasonings and then serve.
To make the tart dairy free, substitute coconut oil for the butter and coconut milk for the heavy cream.
Feel free to use whatever vegetables happen to be available or in season. Here’s a few suggestions:
Broccoli and leek
shredded carrot, za’atar and carmelized onion
Spinach, leek and feta
leek, butternut squash and blue cheese
Cherry tomato, mozzarella and basil
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