Pea, basil and eggplant vegan tart

Dan Lepard's vegan pea, basil and eggplant tart.
Dan Lepard's vegan pea, basil and eggplant tart. Photo: William Meppem

This is my go-to dish when I need a tart that's savoury and comforting, like a quiche, but dairy-free and egg-free, and rich with vegetables.The combination of green peas and eggplants in a creamy puree of nuts and herbs gives you a substantial dish that tastes rich and indulgent. The texture is soft and creamy, but once cool will slice well. It also freezes well once cooked, and can be turned into mini tarts.


For spiced tahini olive oil shortcrust

25g dark muscovado sugar or raw sugar

1 tsp salt

50ml boiling water

50ml cider vinegar

2 tsp ground cumin

25ml olive oil

100g tahini, stirred until soft and creamy before measuring

about 250g plain white flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

extra flour for rolling

For the tart filling

2 medium eggplants

150g raw cashews or blanched almonds

150g frozen peas

200ml boiling water

1 small bunch of basil

1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp potato, rice or cornflour

50ml olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

extra basil and olive oil to finish

one large shortcrust pastry tart case, baked blind (above)


To make your own vegan shortcrust pastry:

As this pastry is egg-free, it's slightly more tricky to roll; if it cracks you can simply patch together pieces of dough in the tart case.

1. Put the sugar and salt in a mixing bowl then pour over the boiling water. Then add the vinegar, cumin, oil and tahini and whisk until smooth and emulsified. 

2. Next add the flour and baking powder and mix to a soft smooth dough. Cover and leave to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to make rolling easier.

3. Roll out the dough to line a deep, fluted 22cm-diameter tart case (the French sort with a removable base), patching the dough together if it breaks apart. Freeze the tart case for 30 minutes*, then bake blind – lining the inside of the case with non-stick paper and baking beans – at 160C fan-forced (180C conventional) for about 25 minutes. Then remove the paper and beans, and bake for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is starting to crisp.  

* Begin preparing tart filling while the pastry is resting in the freezer

To prepare filling:

1. Slit the eggplants to stop them bursting, then bake on a tray at 160C fan-forced (180C conventional) for 30 to 40 minutes until tender. Then peel and dice the flesh, place in a sieve over a bowl then stir in a teaspoon of salt and leave for 30 minutes to drain and cool.

2. Meanwhile put the cashews and peas in a bowl, pour on the boiling water and leave for 20 minutes to soften. Then place the cashews, peas and soaking water in a blender with the basil (I add the stems as well), garlic and potato flour, and blend until utterly creamy and smooth. Then beat in the olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Finally stir through the drained eggplant.

3. Spoon the mixture into the tart case, roughly press a handful of basil leaves into the top with a drizzle of olive oil and bake at 160C fan-forced (180C conventional) for about 30 minutes until just beginning to colour on top. Cool slightly before serving.

Serving suggestion: I've kept the flavour subtle, so this tart is excellent served with chilli sauce and a punchy salad of, say, roasted peppers, artichokes, fennel, garlic and rich fried mushrooms. Or you can spice the filling to taste with your own ideas.

More vegan recipes: click here