--- --- Join Mary Berg in her kitchen in Mary's Kitchen Crush, weekdays at 5pm from 3 May on SBS Food and SBS On Demand; her easy fruit galette is part of the meal she cooks for her mother in the first episode ---
Never made a tart or pie in your life? You can make this. Made a million tarts but looking for something that’s wonderfully rough, rustic and simple? You want this.
You don’t need pastry chef skills or a tart plate or pie tin to make these rustic tarts. (And though it’s easy to do, you don’t even have to make pastry – below we’ll share a few versions using bought pastry, which makes them even quicker to pull together).
Call them a free-form tart, a fold-over pie, or a galette, what they all have in common is that they are made by rolling out a rough circle of pastry (the thing we love number one: it doesn’t matter if it’s not a perfect circle!); piling on a filling (TWL no 2: endless variations); then folding the pastry back over, to partially cover the filling (TWL no 3: if the pastry breaks a bit during the folding, it doesn’t matter). Unlike a pie or tart made using a tart or pie tin, there’s no trimming of edges which makes it quicker and uses all the pastry. And the cooking is easier too: as chef Adrian Richardson says of his Mediterranean tomato, olive and anchovy tart, “Free-form tarts are the easiest pastries to make: no lining or blind baking required.” (We’ve lost count… but you get the picture. So many TWL about this technique!)
Here are some of our favourite sweet and savoury takes on the fold-over pastry tart:
With homemade pastry
"This tart is simplicity at its best – a selection of gorgeous summer stone fruit encased in a sweet, easy-peasy pastry. There's no real structure, it's slightly rustic and lets seasonal stone fruits shine," says Anneka Manning of her free-form summer fruit tart. Made with sweet shortcrust pastry and a simple filling, this will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days after making, so it's a good make-ahead option.
You can make the pastry for this glorious galette up to 24 hours in advance, making it easy to get a head start. If you can get your hands on lemon balm, the pesto is a brilliant way to use it (and if you can't, you could substitute basil, mint, lemon zest or a mixture).
Donna Hay's strawberry tarts
These cheery tarts are a great way to make the most of strawberries. Made with coconut sugar and a mixture of plain and wholemeal spelt flour, the pastry has a lovely nutty earthiness, a great contrast to the juicy fruit in the filling. Make one large tart or several smaller ones. She also has a variation using peaches for the filling.
A great one to use up all kinds of greens! "We love cooking with the leafy tops of our radishes, swedes and Japanese turnips but you can use whatever greens you have on hand including silverbeet, nettles or spinach," says Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans. You can make this free-form, using a baking tray, or in a pie plate or oven-proof skillet.
"These tarts use an easy rough-puff pastry, which creates lovely crisp layers," says Irish cook Donal Skehan, who makes these rustic tarts in Donal's Kitchen Hero Feast (starts Sunday, April 19 on SBS Food Channel 33). The filling mixes cherry tomatoes, herbs and ricotta cheese. Make single-serve tarts or one large one.
This receipe from Mary's Kitchen Crush host Mary Berg is a lovely free-form flat pie, with a light, tender flaky dough and sweet-tart fruity filling.
With storebought pastry
From Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty More, this tart fills a base of buttery puff pastry with chard (silverbeet), mint, parsley, sage, two cheeses, pine nuts and lemon zest (and zucchini flowers, if they are in season). You can use the same recipe with other greens, too: "You can use a wide range of wild, cultivated or supermarket greens in this recipe. Consider nettles, beetroot tops, turnip tops, spinach or watercress in place of the chard. The combination is up to you so choose the ones you like most. The zucchini flowers look wonderful but you can leave them out or substitute them with some long shaved strips of zucchini if you prefer."
Chef Adrian Richardson fills circles of puff pastry with tomato, green olive, boconcini, caper, anchovy and basil filling in these French-influenced free-form tarts.
In this very easy recipe from Donna Hay, shortcrust pastry is spread with jam and fruit, and an almond-cinnamon crumble sprinkled over the top. Brilliant served warm with vanilla ice-cream!
Frances Mayes is another fan. "Spread the crust, pile the filling in the middle, and then loosely flap the edges toward the centre, forming a rustic tart with a spontaneous look," she writes.
This pie is one of my all-time favourites and brings together some of Greece’s most popular ingredients – silverbeet, haloumi, Kalamata olives, rice and filo pastry. It takes a little while to prepare but don’t be put off, I promise it will be well worth the effort.
Originating from Forfar in Scotland, the bridie pie is said to be named after a travelling food seller, Margaret Bridie, who sold them during the mid-19th century. Deliciously more-ish, they resemble the pastie in shape and concept but are surprisingly similar in taste and texture to a plain sausage roll. Whilst not traditional, a beetroot relish tomato chutney makes a perfect accompaniment. O why has it taken me so long to discover the bridie!
Ela, a native of Albania, taught us how to make byrek, an Albanian filled pastry. It is made with several layers of a simple dough rolled thinly by hand and filled with a mixture of salty cheese, milk and egg. Serve these warm or at room temperature with a chopped salad for lunch, or make bite-size ones for hors d’oeuvres. They’re also a perfect picnic food.
Holi was one of the busiest times in my grandma’s house. I remember how lunch and sometimes dinner was cooked early so that the latter part of the day could be spent making gujiya and other savoury things. It may look quick, but we are talking hundreds of such homemade pastries, so it was a lot of work. The neighbourhood were given boxes full of these as a token gift and since these last for almost a week if stored properly, we always had lots of them left for a snack after the festival had winded up.