Mountain Pepper, Leek & Cheddar Tart with a Saltbush & Mountain Pepper pastry
When Mel, of Mayfield, came into The Essential Ingredient Newcastle last week, she was eager to buy Mountain Pepper leaf for this recipe. It was featured in Junkies magazine, (Issue 9) an Australian publication about eco-design, fashion and lifestyle, focused on rethinking, reusing, reducing and recycling our resources.
Mel reports that the tart was absolutely delicious, and that she’d be making it again. In fact it was so delicious, we didn’t even get a taste.
This tart recipe originally comes courtesy of Brigid, of Saltbush Kitchen, Victoria, where it is a favourite over the chilly months. Mountain Pepper and leeks are like kindred spirits in the flavour world. The cheddar adds a distinct and delicious flavour to the tart. Brigid insists that you use a quality sharp cheddar with this recipe saying it makes ALL the difference.
This recipe includes how to make bush spiced pastry but this tart is still fab if you prefer to buy pre-made pastry.
Mountain Pepper Leaf
Dried Mountain Pepper Leaf is incredibly versatile, with a spicy, earthy taste, and hints of lemon when dried. It can be used to to flavour savory pastry for quiches and tarts, in shortbread with lemon myrtle and saltbush, on roast potatoes with Australian salt flakes, cooked with leeks and root vegetables for soups, stock and as a base for stews and casseroles, an addition to dukkah, or in a spice rub to use on fish or chicken.
It works particularly well with winter root vegetables, leeks and onions, with cauliflower, butter and cream, partnered with lemon myrtle or Australian thyme and fresh native sea parsley.
If you want to plant your own Mountain Pepper bush, it’s botanical name is Tasmanian lanceolata. It can grow up to 5 metres high with a spread of 2 metres. Being a mountain plant, it prefers cooler climates and is hardy and frost tolerant. You will need both male and female plants to get pepper berries. You can use the leaves, as in this recipe, and its pepper berries in food, making it a very versatile bush tucker plant.
Method for Mountain Pepper, Leek and Cheese Tart
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a food processor add dry ingredients and cubed butter. Blitz until you have a bread crumb consistency.
Add 250ml tap water and continue mixing until the dough just comes together.
Turn out onto your bench and make into a ball.
Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Oil spray a 30cm round tart tin to prepare for pastry.
Remove pastry from fridge and roll out to 5mm thickness to fit tart tin.
Roll pastry over tart tin and press into place.
Cover with baking paper and top with baking weights (we use rice or chickpeas)
Cook for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
Remove weights and baking paper and egg wash your pastry*, bake for a further 12 minutes and set aside to cool.
* Our egg wash is 1 egg & 2 TBSP of cream mixed and applied with a pastry brush.
Chop leeks and wash well.
In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and add leeks.
Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add a pinch of salt flakes. Add Mountain Pepper leaf and cook for a further 5 minutes until leeks are tender.
Whisk Egg Mix ingredients to combine.
Fill tart pastry generously with leek mixture.
Crumble cheddar cheese evenly over the top of the leeks.
Pour ½ the egg mixture over the leeks.
Stir gently with a spoon to combine.
Add remaining egg mixture.
Cook at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through and golden on top.