mackerel and spinach tart


pastry is one of those things i struggle to make. i know it’s easy and most of the time it turns out fine but every now and then it misbehaves. usually this happens when i am in a rush (the kiss of death, unsurprisingly) or i want to make quiche and need a pastry-case without any cracks or holes through which the filling can escape.

i think that part of the problem is that i’m not a huge fan of pastry so i always make it as thin and light as possible. the pastry i made for this tart was no exception but thankfully all the repairs i made, as i lined my tin, held and cleaning the oven hasn’t had to be added to my list of kitchen chores.

this tart is lovely at room temperature and the dressing i made for the salad we had, was the perfect complement - lemon juice, olive oil, wholegrain mustard, garlic salt and pepper.

mackerel and spinach tart (serves 4)

for the pastry:

110g plain flour

pinch of salt

50g butter, at room temperature

cold water, to mix

250g peppered mackerel

225g baby spinach

3 eggs, beaten

50ml double cream

zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

preheat the oven to 180c

make the pastry: sift the flour and salt into a bowl. cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the flour. rub the butter into the flour, using your fingertips and lifting your hands up high so air is incorporated into the mix, until it forms crumbs of a similar size. sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cold water over the mix and use a butter knife to “cut” and mix everything together. add more water as needed until you are able to bring the dough together with your hands, to form a smooth ball. wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

remove the skin from the mackerel fillets and flake into bite-size pieces. wilt the spinach in a non-stick pan and squeeze out any excess water. mix the eggs, double cream, lemon zest and mustard.

roll the pastry out and use it to line a lightly greased 20cm quiche tin. press the pastry firmly on the base and sides and if you get any holes repair these with bits of pastry from the edges. prick all over with a fork and bake blind (i put a piece of greaseproof paper over the pastry and add a few handfuls of dried chickpeas to hold it down. you can keep and reuse the paper and chickpeas) for 15 minutes.

remove from the oven and arrange the spinach over the base of the part-cooked pastry-case. top with mackerel and then pour over the egg/cream mix. bake for 20minutes, the filling should be softly set.

leave to cool slightly and serve with salad.