Weekend Cook: Make our beetroot, fennel and red onion tatin with feta and dukkah

Make our beetroot, fennel and red onion tatin with marinated feta and dukkah Picture: Charlotte Smi

Make our beetroot, fennel and red onion tatin with marinated feta and dukkah Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Seasonal veg are given a Middle Eastern twist in this veggie-friendly tart.

Making the most of a veggie box.

In a bid to add more seasonal variety into our diets, a couple of years ago I signed up for a Riverford organic veg box. Once a fortnight the lovely Nick turns up on the doorstop, arms weighted down by the proliferation of fresh produce. Always knobbly, earth-crusted potatoes - from red-skinned bakers and mashers in autumn and winter, through to tiny new spuds in late spring, just in time for Easter. Onions and carrots are mainstays too (good for us as I use them every day in our kitchen). But what I get most excited about are the 'other things'. The vegetables I perhaps wouldn't ordinarily pop into my basket at the supermarket. Ingredients I'd look at and think, 'ah too much effort'. We've had Jerusalem artichokes, some lemony tubers I can't remember the name of, kohlrabi, horseradish. In season, there are all different types of tomatoes. And when asparagus appears it makes me (sadly) skip for joy. Of late, as the growing season proper comes into fruition, there have been veg from further afield to fill the gap. Tomatoes. Courgettes. And fennel. Fennel's a bit like Marmite - you either love it or hate it. I fall into the former camp - although I can't say my family feel the same.

If you've got time to bake this weekend, why not make our sticky ginger caramel curd bread?

With a flavour somewhere along the lines of liquorice with a dash of celery, it certainly makes its presence known, and needs robust partners which can stand up to its prominence. This week I've sliced it down and cooked it slowly with tender beets and red onion - their sweetness and earthy hints marrying really well. A hint of sharp pomegranate molasses, chilli and pepper in my savoury tatin, brings out the best in the fennel. Over the top is a crumble of marinated feta, blended with homemade dukkah - a tumble of seeds, spices and nuts. You won't need to use all the feta and dukkah, but both can make other meals. Sprinkle them over baked sweet potato. Stir into pasta. Spoon over chicken breasts and bake. Serve with your avocado on toast or in a lamb kebab. Or, as we like to, just pop on the table with flatbreads and olive oil to dip. The dukkah will last for weeks in a sealed jar, and the feta should be eaten within a couple of days.

Beetroot, fennel and red onion tatin

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(serves four with a side salad/potatoes)


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75g cold butter

150g plain flour

Pinch salt

Chilled water

For the topping:

2 small beetroots, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces

1 small fennel, fronds reserved, cut in half and sliced into 0.5cm slices

1 large red onion, halved and sliced into 0.5cm slices

1tbsp butter

1tbsp oil

½ to 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped


1tbsp pomegranate molasses (or 1tbsp dark brown sugar mixed with 1/2tbsp balsamic vinegar)

1tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2tsp dried

For the feta:

1 block feta

Drizzle olive oil

Zest ½ lemon

Squeeze lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, grated

Black pepper

For the dukkah:

1 handful nuts (pistachio and almond work well)

1tbsp mixed seeds

1tsp fennel seeds

1tbsp cumin seeds

1tbsp coriander seeds

1tbsp sesame seeds

1/2tsp sea salt

1/2tsp paprika

A few grinds fresh black pepper


Make the pastry. Cube the butter and pop into a food processor with the flour and a pinch of salt. Pulse to make breadcrumbs and add ice cold water, a little at a time, to bring it together into a dough. Wrap and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the dough chills prepare the topping. Melt the butter with the oil in a saucepan and add the beetroot and fennel. Saute for two minutes. Add half a cup of water, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the onion, replace the lid and cook for another couple of minutes, adding a splash more water if needed. Now remove the lid and turn up the heat, allowing all the juices to cook off. Add the chilli, thyme, pomegranate molasses and seasoning to taste. Set aside.

Combine the feta with the lemon juice, zest, garlic, pepper and a splash of oil. Set aside. Put all the ingredients for the dukkah in a food processor or spice or coffee grinder and pulse to make rough breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 200C and line a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof. Pour in the beetroot mixture and spread out well so the whole base is covered.

On a floured surface roll out the pastry to fit the tin and place over the beetroot, pressing it firmly over the mixture and making sure the pastry is pressed right to the edges.

Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden.

Leave for five minutes to settle, then place a plate over the top and carefully turn the tin over to release the tart. Combine the feta with the dukkah and sprinkle over, finishing with the reserved fennel fronds. Serve warm with salad and sauteed new potatoes.

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