What is samphire? Good question! Samphire is something that we ate raw straight off the rain-soaked salt marshes of some place in the arse-end of nowhere whilst on some kind of Geography trip, when we were but knee-high to a grasshopper and wanted nothing more than to stand in the rain eating strange vegetables. English field trips really do take the Michael, don’t they?
Samphire is also known as sea asparagus or sea pickle (I snorted and it was, as I’m sure you can imagine, devastatingly attractive) and it can apparently be eaten raw — which I haven’t fact-checked at all in any way, because I would like to hang on to the belief that our secondary school teachers did not harbour the desire to give us food poisoning.
Anyhoodles, this is a cooked tart – because you should absolutely not eat raw eggs, unless you use antlers in all of your decorating* – so the samphire is, by nature of being in said tart, also cooked.
The power of my own mind astonishes me sometimes.
Samphire in shops can be a) needlessly expensive and b) difficult to find, so please feel free to substitute some nice spindly spears of asparagus, some wilted spinach, or any other greens you fancy. If you’re lucky enough to have access to it in the wild, just make sure to give it an especially thorough wash, as it will no doubt have a little extra saltiness to it.
Balsamic Onion, Goat Cheese & Samphire Tart (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Standard tart/quiche dish, roughly 25cm diameter (example); small frying pan or saucepan; jug or small bowl; stirring and cutting implements, as per usual.
- 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry (Jus Rol now have a gluten-free range!)
- 125-150g crumbly goat cheese (not the stuff with the rind)
- 3 medium white onions
- 5 eggs
- 50g samphire (see waffling paragraphs above for substitutions)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Splash of oil
- Salt & pepper
- First of all, my fine friends, get your pan on a medium-high heat and splash in some oil, so we can get started on the onions. You’d be best using a non-stick pan (always, but specifically in this instance), as you don’t want to overload on the oil. Unless you do! I don’t know, man. Top and tail your onions and peel off the papery skin and any unsavoury-looking outer layers. Cut them in half and then slice as thinly as possible into half moons. Once the oil is hot, get in the onions, separating the layers with a wooden spoon or other such sundry item, and add salt and pepper. Leave these to go for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and go off and have a drink. Might I interest you in my new beverage, the Gin-cherry Fizz?**
- When the 10 minutes are up, preheat the oven to 200, otherwise you will 100% forget to do that. Add the balsamic vinegar to the onions and keep cooking them for a further 5-10 minutes, again stirring occasionally; they should colour nicely and be softened and sweet before too long. Unroll the pastry sheet and carefully line your dish, pressing it into the corners and cutting off any excess with a sharp knife. If there are any gaps, plug them up with the excess pastry – who cares? It’s your tart!
- Scatter the onions over the pastry, spreading evenly, then crumble over the goat cheese. Whisk your eggs with a little salt & pepper then pour into the tart case. Arrange the samphire on top and sprinkle over the Parmesan, if using. Pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned on top, then consume.
Above: the tart, naked (gasp) and below: the tart, fully clothed.
We had this with a rocket, watercress and beetroot salad, which I dressed with a bit of olive oil and balsamic – you make do in the country.
*I’m going to be strict on this; if you only use antlers in SOME of your decorating, cook those eggs you charlatain.
**A shameless play on Ginberry Fizz, obviously. 25ml London dry gin, generous splash of cherry cordial, juice of half a lime, 150ml regular or Mediterranean tonic water. Lush. Even Isla likes it! You know, my wife?