Fennel, olive tapenade and goat’s cheese tart
I love fennel both raw and cooked; finely shaved and covered with a delicious orange and sherry vinegar dressing, it’s delicious. Equally, roasted, or pan fried it’s hard to go wrong. Here, I’ve chosen to gently cook the fennel in butter until soft and sweet and then bake it with salty olive tapenade and creamy goat’s cheese on a (shop bought) puff pastry sheet. This is a take on a classic French pissadilière, sweet caramelised onions and anchovies atop a puff pastry base.
You can, of course, buy ready made olive tapenade, but if you spare the extra 10 minutes, it’s worth making your own.
2 heads of fennel, finely sliced
75g stoned kalamata olives
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
½ tsp roughly chopped thyme
Zest of ½ a lemon
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 x ready rolled puff pastry sheet
125g soft goat’s cheese
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the fennel with a little salt. Cook gently, with the lid on, for around 20 minutes until the fennel is completely soft. Stir it from time to time and remove the lid towards the end of cooking to drive off any excess moisture.
Meanwhile, make your tapenade. Simply chop the olives and capers roughly on a chopping board and then transfer them to a mortar and pestle. Add the thyme, lemon zest, garlic and extra virgin olive oil and pound the ingredients until you’ve got a rough paste. You could use a food processor here if you like.
Once the fennel has cooked, allow it to cool to room temperature before assembling the tart.
Place your pastry sheet on a sheet of non-stick paper on a baking sheet. Spread the tapenade over the pastry base, it’ll only be a very thin layer but that’s fine as it’s a very intense mixture. Then, top with the fennel and break the cheese up over the entire tart.
Cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is brown at the edges.
Decorate with fennel fronds and serve with lemon juice wedges to squeeze over.