For as long as I can remember, Christmas food in my family celebrated ham, prawns, and pavolva. The last five years have looked a little different, simply because this is how long I've been vegan for. Don't get me wrong, these foods still appear (for my family members), but they're slowly becoming overcrowded by the vegan dishes I create and make to share.
Today in my family began the first of three Christmas celebrations. At the lunch table, I sat next to my Dad who filled his plate with excitement, before realising it was very full. As an offer of support, I suggested "Just don't eat the meat– eat all the vegetables instead!" to which he replied "It's not Christmas without ham." He then went on to ask how I'd feel if I didn't have all my alternative dishes: salads, tarts, roasted vegetables, raw treats, and fresh fruit. Touche Dad.
By now you're probably thinking "What does this recipe have to do with ham?" I'd simply like to offer this Roasted Vegetable + Pesto Tart as a bloody delicious option, I'd even go as far as to suggest that it could compete with the ham on your Christmas table. Sure, it's not glazed, but it is red and green, and it's a fun, substantial, vegan main meal Christmas option.
Christmas aside, this tart is great for any occasion, and can be filled with literally anything. Have a tub of hummus and some leftover roasted vegetables in your fridge? Voila! Omit the salt from the pastry (maybe just add a pinch instead) and top the crust with whipped coconut cream, sliced bananas and a drizzle of molten chocolate– this tart crust is versatile. It's gluten-free, vegan, made from real, whole food ingredients, and comes together in minutes.
Nutritionally, this recipe hits the mark too. At celebratory events, finding a salad, or vegetable-based dish is easy, but hoping it has protein is another battle. This recipe gets a big tick for both categories, meaning you won't be hungry and resort to scoffing down double dessert if you're no longer relying on your protein quota from Christmas ham.
Chickpea and buckwheat flours contain between 30-40% protein respectively, and they're also great sources of dietary fibre, magnesium and manganese! Hello healthy regular bowels, nourished nervous systems, and healthy enzyme pathways– this tart can do all that!
2 tablespoons chia seeds + 6 tablespoons water
2 cups chickpea flour
1.5 cups buckwheat flour
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1.5 teaspoons salt
cracked black pepper
2. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
3. In a large bowl, combine chickpea and buckwheat flour, chopped thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Whisk together well, then add chia seeds, olive oil and water and mix. Use a spatula to combine ingredients first, then it's easiest to use your hands to bring the mixture together fully, and gently knead, then bring mixture together in one large ball.
4. Place ball of pastry onto a sheet of baking paper. Sprinkle a little extra flour onto a rolling pin, then roll pastry out into one large piece, about 0.5cm thick.
5. Grease a 30cm-diameter tart tin, or baking dish with olive oil, then place the pastry sheet over the top. Press into tin, then trim off any loose edges. Using a fork, prick holes into the pastry all over, to allow heat to transfer evenly throughout the cooking process.
6. Place fennel pieces and cherry tomatoes onto a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
7. Bake both the tart crust and roasted vegetables in the oven for 28 minutes. Remove the tart crust and let cool, but keep the vegetables baking for a further 12-15 minutes, until fennel is nicely caramelised. Remove, and let cool.
8. Combine pesto, tahini and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread out evenly into the centre of the tart shell.
9. Top with roasted vegetables, garnish with parsley (or any other herb) and serve.