Zucchini, ‘ricotta’ and herb vegan tart

Yes, the humble but not remotely humble zucchini and herb tart is back. The original version, which nearly cost me a finger (thanks to some mandoline naivety) but gained me a whole bunch of Pinterest interest, was made with ricotta, butter and eggs. This version? Tofu.

Before you rapidly click away, please! Let me explain! Let me start with the most important of my desperate excuses – tofu is essentially flavourless (don’t shake your head at me) vegan, FODMAP friendly, dairy free, and the perfect texture, give or take a few additions, to emulate ricotta. Tthe consistency of it is arguably even better to get right than a store bought ricotta (why is ricotta in a tub so runny?)

Now that you’ve read this far, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t have any extra desperate excuses. Those are all I have. Let me just say, though, that this tart tastes pretty much exactly the same to me, minus any dairy or animal products. I consider that a win. HOWEVER, if you’ve really got your heart set on the non vegan version, you can find it here. 

Vegan, gluten free zucchini, herb, 'ricotta' and caper tart from www.georgeats.com
Vegan, gluten free zucchini, herb, ‘ricotta’ and caper tart

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 2 cups almond meal (200g)
  • 1 cup tapioca flour (130g)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Nuttelex Buttery)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Ice water, if you need it

FOR THE ‘RICOTTA’ FILLING

  • 300g firm tofu
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 4 tablespoons plant milk of choice (I used soy milk)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • A bunch of mint and a bunch of dill
  • 20g capers
  • 3-5 large zucchinis/courgettes, amount depending on how big they are (buy more than you think you’ll need, I learnt that lesson for you) mandolined lengthways or extremely finely cut – a mandoline makes a world of difference here because the thinner the strips are, the bendier and easier to shape they are

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the crust in your food processor (EXCEPT for the ice water) and process until combined. The dough should be in little balls but easily able to be gathered up into your hand. If not, add a teaspoon at a time of ice water until it achieves that consistency. Wrap it up (bees wax wraps are brilliant for this and for the earth just FYI yes I’m turning ‘hippie’) and place it into the fridge to firm up.
  3. Spray a 24cm in diameter springform fluted tart tin with olive oil, and gently press the tart dough into the tin. Repair any little tears with your hands, and don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up the edges of the tin – just press the edge tops flat so they look ~presentable~. Prick lots of little holes in the base of the tart with a fork, to let the air escape. Pop into the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. While the base is cooking, throw everything for the ‘ricotta’ (except for the herbs and capers) into the food processor (no need to clean it after the crust really) and process it until it forms a thick, ricotta looking paste. Add the herbs and capers, and process a little more. Adjust for taste (the bonus of no eggs) and add a bit more nutmeg or chilli if you can taste tofu and don’t wanna. You could also add some dried herbs, although I don’t overly condone that unless you’re up against a tofu hater.
  5. Gently spoon the tofu mixture into the tart base – I find it easiest to pat it down using my hands.
  6. Chop your zucchini slices in half lengthways so they are thin enough to be pressed into the tart. Originally I would begin from the centre and work out (see pictures here) but the last few times I’ve started laying the slices around the edges and working in. Begin pressing the zucchini slices, green side up, into the ‘ricotta’ and as tightly packed as you can. If you’re having trouble getting the slices to sit well in the tart, either trim some of the white flesh off so they’re shorter, or scoop out a little tofu and set aside for snacks. I promise it’s delish. Continue layering the zucchini in the tart until you have covered the entire tart.
  7. Give the top of the tart a generous spray with olive oil, and pop it back into the oven for 40 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked.
Vegan, gluten free zucchini, herb, 'ricotta' and caper tart from www.georgeats.com
Vegan, gluten free zucchini, herb, ‘ricotta’ and caper tart

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