A tempting tart made with a light and delicate grain-free pastry and packed with softly sweet fried leeks in a cheesy, creamy sauce. Rich and comforting enough for the tail-end of winter, but also perfectly paired with a zingy and fresh side salad for warmer spring days. Delicious hot or cold, for a light lunch or a luxurious dinner.
I love tarts, and this is a good one. As spring is on its way, I start to look forward to lighter, fresher food, and a little (or enormous) slice of some sort of tart or quiche is a really wonderful thing to have alongside an array of vibrant salads or spring vegetables.
Up until recently I’d been struggling to nail down a really good recipe – I’ve tried fillings with tofu and gram flour (aka chickpea flour or besan), designed to be more quiche-like, but none of them really hit the spot. Then in a flash of inspiration (and an over-abundance of leeks) I decided to try adapting a side dish I make for particularly extravagant Sunday dinners; a sort of leek crumble, with fried leeks baked in a creamy cashew sauce with a sunflower seeds topping. I added some more punchy, cheesy flavours to the sauce, and with a bit of pastry and some sliced tomatoes, a tart was born.
You can use a shop-bought shortcrust pastry for this recipe (Jus-Rol shortcrust is suitable for vegans), or make your own using wheat flour and vegan butter, however I wanted to see if I could make an equally crisp, flaky, and delicious grain-free version. Often the most successful gluten-free pastry has a proportion of ground almonds to help create a lighter, more pastry-like texture, the downsides being that they are expensive and slightly sweet in flavour. I had made gram flour pastry before with limited success, and decided to try combining gram flour with ground sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are super cheap, and have a lovely nutty flavour, which combined with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast has a distinctly cheesy element to it. The results were crisp, crumbly and especially delicious with the cheesy leek filling – if you’ve been struggling to find a good gluten or grain-free pastry, I’d really recommend giving this a try!
How to make cheesy leek and tomato tart
The first thing to do is to soak some cashew nuts. This is the base of the filling, and soaking them will allow you to blitz them into a really creamy sauce. If you are organized enough, 4 hours in cold water is ideal, otherwise 1 hour in just-boiled water, or 15 minutes in boiling water if you have completely forgotten, which obviously has never happened to me…
Then onto the pastry. You’ll need to grind the sunflower seeds into a flour-like texture, which is best done in a spice-grinder or a high-speed blender with a milling blade. You can use a food processor but it might take a but longer to get it nice and fine. Add the ground sunflower seeds along with the gram flour, baking powder, salt and nutritional yeast to the bowl of your food processor and whizz to combine, then add the fridge-cold vegan butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block, and Flora have just bought a plant-based block as well) or coconut oil. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, then add a few tablespoons of cold water and pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough.
Because there’s no gluten, the dough doesn’t need to rest so you can use it straight away, but it will be a little easier to handle when the fat is a really cold, so I’d suggest popping it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. You can heat the oven at this point, finely slice your onion and garlic, and wash and slice your leeks. Prepare a flan tin (ideally with a loose-bottom) by greasing it and lining the base with baking paper, and gather some baking beads (or dry rice) and a large sheet of baking paper for blind baking.
Flour a large board or work surface with gram flour, and take your pastry out of the fridge. Roll it into a rough disc until it’s about 4 or 5 mm thick. Sieve a little flour onto the top of the pastry to prevent it from sticking, then wrap it around the rolling pin so you can transfer it into your flan dish. I have not yet managed to get the pastry to arrive in one piece (see prototype tart below), but this is not a problem – just press excess pastry over any cracks until it’s roughly the same thickness as the rest, using a little water to help it adhere if you need. Cut away any pastry over-hang so you have a nice neat edge, prick the base with a fork, then cover in baking paper and gently pour in the baking beads or rice, and spread so they form an even layer.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beads and bake for another 5–10, until the base of the tart is dry and firm to the touch.
While the tart case is baking, put a large frying pan or sauté pan over a medium heat, and add a splash of olive oil and some vegan butter. Once hot, add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes before adding the leeks, along with a pinch of salt. Fry for 10–12 minutes until the leeks are completely soft, then add the garlic and dried thyme and fry for another 2–3 mins, then remove from the heat. To make the cashew sauce, put the drained cashews in your high-speed blender or food processor, along with the nutritional yeast, vinegar, mustard, white miso paste (if using, otherwise add a little more salt), water, black pepper, and salt. Whizz until completely smooth, then pour over the leeks once they’ve finished cooking. Finely slice a couple of tomatoes for the topping.
Once the tart case is cooked, remove from the oven and add the filling, spreading it to form an even layer, then arrange the sliced tomato on top. If the edges of the tart are already starting to brown, then take the baking paper your used for blind baking, and cut a hole is the center that is just slightly smaller than your tin. You can place this over your tart to protect the edges from burning, while still allowing the filling to cook. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the top is nicely browned.
This tart is delicious straight from the oven, but equally tasty to eat cold (and particularly good cold with ketchup, just saying). It also freezes really well, so if there’s only one or two of you eating, you can slice up the rest of the tart, flash freeze the slices on a baking tray for an hour or so, then keep them in a freezer bag or tub until your next tart craving. It’s best re-heated in the oven, and you’ll need to loosely cover it with kitchen foil to prevent burning – about 20-25 mins at 180C fan if you de-frost first, otherwise about 40 minutes from frozen.
Please let me know if you give this a go! Whether it’s the pastry, the filling, or both I’d love to hear how you get on. You can comment below, use the star rating at the top of this post, or find me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Cheesy Leek and Tomato Tart
A tempting tart made with a light and delicate grain-free pastry and packed with softly sweet fried leeks in a cheesy, creamy sauce
For the pastry:
- 125g (scant 1 cup) sunflower seeds
- 125g (1 cup) gram flour (chickpea flour / besan)
- 100g (7 tbsp) fridge-cold vegan butter or coconut oil
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 3–4 tbsp water
For the filling:
- 1 small red onion
- 4 leeks (around 1 kg untrimmed)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp vegan butter)
- 100g (¾ cup) cashews, soaked for 4 hours
- 5 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- ¾ tsp white miso paste (optional – otherwise add an extra ¼ tsp salt)
- 1 ½ tsp cider vinegar (or 2 tsp lemon juice)
- ¾ tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 140ml (9 tbsp) water
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2–3 medium tomatoes
- Soak 100g cashews in plenty of cold water for 4 hours, just-boiled water for 1 hour, or boil for 15 minutes.
- For the pastry, use a high-speed blender or spice grinder to blitz 125g sunflower seeds into a flour-like texture – be careful not to overdo it as you might end up with sunflower seed butter. Add to a food processor with 125g gram flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt, and 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (if using), and whizz to combine. Then add 100g fridge-cold vegan butter or coconut oil in small chunks and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3 tbsp cold water and pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough, adding a drop more water if it’s still crumbly. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven on to pre-heat to 180C fan. Grease a flan tin or pie dish (somewhere around 28–30cm diameter) and line the base with baking paper. Finely slice 1 small red onion, 4 cloves garlic, and wash, trim and slice the leeks into 1cm pieces or there abouts.
- Dust a large board or work surface with gram flour, then take the pastry out of the fridge. Dust the top of the pastry and roll out until it’s wider than your flan tin and around 4–5mm thick. Dust with a little more flour, then wrap the pastry around the rolling pin, drape it over your prepared tin, and press it into the corners. As the pastry has no gluten it will most likely crack a bit or look a bit of a mess but don’t worry! Cover any cracks or gaps with excess pastry, using a little water to stick it down in necessary, and press it into the tin until it’s roughly the same thickness as the rest. Trim off any overhang around the edges, then place a large piece of baking paper over the pastry and fill the case with baking beads or plenty of dry rice. Blind bake for 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beads, and bake for another 5–10 until the base is firm and completely dry.
- While the pastry is baking, put a large frying or sauté pan over a medium heat with 2 tbsp oil. Once hot add the sliced onions and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks have softened, then add the sliced garlic and ½ tsp dried thyme and cook for another 3 minutes. The leeks should be sweet smelling and starting to colour a little. Remove from the heat.
- To make the cashew sauce, add 100g soaked cashews, 5 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp dijon mustard, ¾ white miso (if using), 1 ½ tsp cider vinegar, ¾ tsp salt, a good grind of black pepper, and 140ml water to a food processor or high-speed blender, and whizz until completely smooth and creamy. Pour over the cooked leek mixture and stir everything together.
- Once the pastry case has been blind baked, remove from the oven and spoon in the leek mixture. Finely slice 2–3 tomatoes and arrange the slices on top. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the tart is golden brown on top (see notes for what to do if the pastry edges are getting too dark). You can eat immediately, or eat it cold. It will keep in the fridge for 5 or so days, or you can freeze it for a couple of months.
If the edges of your pastry case are looking a little dark, then take the baking paper you used for blind-baking and cut out a hole just smaller than your flan tin. You can use this to cover the tart in the oven, so that the center continues to brown but the edges have a little protection.