This recipe is inspired by a pie served at Trattoria alle Vignole, one of my favourite restaurants in Venice. Whenever I bake this, I can’t help but think of lazy summer lunches there, at the picnic bench under the big shady tree where we always sit looking out on to the lagoon. I sometimes add a few saffron-hued courgette flowers on top because they look beautiful, but they are by no means essential.
375g block of puff pastry
1 tbsp olive oil
4 medium or 3 large courgettes (about 600g), cut into 1cm thick rounds
70g pancetta, cut into cubes
3 large eggs
180ml double cream
60g pecorino, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5-6 courgette flowers (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so it is large enough to line a 23cm tart tin (lined with baking paper if wished). Drape it over the tin, press it down into the nooks and crannies, then roll the rolling pin over the top of the tin to cut away the excess pastry. Chill for 15-20 minutes. Cover with baking paper, fill with baking beans or rice and bake blind for 15 minutes, until dry to the touch. Remove the beans and paper and bake for 2-3 minutes longer to crisp the base of the pastry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the courgette slices and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring, over a medium heat, for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to colour very lightly. Toss in the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until crisp. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
3. Whisk the eggs and cream together with a fork, then whisk in the cheese and some salt and pepper. Add the courgette mixture, then pour the filling into the pastry case. If you are using the courgette flowers, very gently open them up and pull out and discard the stamen. Then arrange them on top of the tart, gently pressing them into the filling.
4. Put the tart back in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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