Laura’s Veggie Tarts by Kirsten Gilmour of The Mountain Café in Aviemore

Laura, our lovely Irish chef, came up with this recipe for an evening do we were cooking at. They are simple, tasty, light and fresh, and so good that carnivores often order them instead of their meat fix.

If you don’t have wee pie dishes you could use muffin pans instead; make two per portion instead of one. You can prep all the ingredients and cook the squash in advance, and ­get your pastry cases ready too. Then when you’re ready to eat, just pull everything out, bind it, fill the cases and bang them in the oven.

They make for great canapes during Hogmanay!

Ingredients: Serves 6

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200g puff pastry
250g butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and thickly sliced
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 big handful basil, stalks removed and leaves sliced
40g spinach, thinly sliced
150g feta cheese
200g crème fraiche
Salt and cracked black pepper
4 x 10cm tart tins

Method:

  1. Take your pastry out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperate to soften. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan). Place your chopped butternut squash into a small roasting dish and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and a wee sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is cooked through. Leave to cool.
  2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add your red onions. Lightly sauté, stirring in the red peppers when the onions are half cooked, then cook until everything has softened. Leave to cool.
  3. Grease your pie dishes and flour your work top. Roll out the pastry into a rough square 2mm thick, then cut into four equal pieces and line the tins. Put the onions, red peppers and butternut squash in a bowl and add the basil and spinach. Crumble the feta into big chunks on top, season to taste and then gently fold the crème fraiche through the vegetable mix. Pile into the waiting tins, dividing the mix equally four ways.
  4. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling and hot. Serve straight away with salad, crusty bread and a glass of vino.

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