Cooking with Chris – Leek, goat cheese, walnut & lemon tart
I had a little nut tree…♫
There is an old saying that nothing grows under a walnut tree. This is clearly not true, but recently I have found out that a more correct version should be ‘some things won’t grow under a walnut tree’. We have an established bramley apple tree which for the past few years has never failed to produce a heavy crop, until this year, all the apples are misshapen and the leaves are virtually non-existent. A lilac close by also shows signs of distress. In the vicinity of the apple and lilac we have a young black walnut tree, about 10m tall. After some research I have found out that walnut trees, particularly the American black walnut, produce a chemical called juglone. This chemical is poisonous for some plants, especially apples and lilac! Apparently, walnut trees are allelopathic, which means they will try and suppress other plants with chemicals to try to gain an edge on them. Needless to say our black walnut’s days are numbered, I won’t be too sad as it is an alien to this country anyway. So now it is just a matter of catching my chainsaw when it is in the mood to start.
Try this quick and easy tart to use up any leftover walnuts!
Leek, goat’s cheese, walnut and lemon tart.
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 medium leeks
2 tbsps. chopped thyme
zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1 lemon
375g pack ready rolled puff pastry
200g soft spreadable goat’s cheese
50g walnut pieces
little chopped parsley to serve
Heat oven to 220C. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, then add the butter. Once sizzling, add the leeks and cook over a medium heat until softened but not coloured. Stir in the thyme and half the lemon zest, then increase the heat. Add the lemon juice and cook for about 30 secs until the lemon juice reduces, then season well. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Unroll the pastry and lay on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or equivalent. Lightly mark a 1cm border around the edges with a tip of a sharp knife, then prick the base all over with a fork. Spread the lemony leeks on top of the pastry, within the border. Crumble over the cheese, scatter with walnuts, then season with pepper. Drizzle with some olive oil, brushing the edges with a little oil as well. Put the tart in the oven for 15-20 mins until the pastry puffs up around the edges and is golden brown. Scatter with parsley and the remaining lemon zest. Serve hot, warm or cool.