If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know I am a huge (though not always willing) fan of zucchini. We grow it by the ton here during Australian summer and, since it is now a zucchini season in the northern hemisphere, I thought it was perfect timing to post this zucchini tart recipe.
And whether you call it zucchini or courgette, I think you will agree this summer tart is everything – full of veggies, light but filling and finished with a gorgeously golden cheesy crust. It’s perfect for those summer weekend brunches or evenings by the pool, as it can be eaten warm or cold.
Zucchini or courgette?
A quick detour from the recipe first – just because I was intrigued by the difference in terminology here!
It turns out that the term zucchini is Italian in origin and is a diminutive of the word “zucca” meaning “pumpkin” or “squash”. According to Wikipedia, that is the preferred term used in the United States, Australia, English-speaking Canada, Sweden and Germany.
The word courgette, on the other hand, is French in origin and is the diminutive of the word “courge” (meaning “gourd, marrow”). This term is commonly used in France, Belgium, and other Francophone areas, as well as in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.
Another term for this fruit (read more on this below), is “marrow” which is used in Britain and Ireland and “baby marrow” which is used in South Africa.
All terms, however, refer to Cucurbita pepo – a summer squash of Mesoamerican origin which can grow up to nearly 1 metre (40 inches) in length but is usually harvested when still immature at about 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches).
While some might think that zucchini is a vegetable (I guess because it’s not sweet), botanically it is actually a fruit, a type of botanical berry called a “pepo”, which is actually the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. (Now doesn’t that sound super tasty!)
Making this zucchini tart
Making this zucchini tart is nearly as easy as the making of my bacon and egg pie with a couple of additional steps, both of which relate to the preparation of the zucchini and the rest of the filling. The zucchini needs to be sliced thinly on a mandoline and then cooked in a pan until soft (see the photo above). The remainder of the filling, including spring onion (shallots) and bacon are also cooked for a little while before used in the tart.
I don’t bother peeling the zucchini, as I think the darker green skin gives a nice contrast to the ligher flesh when it peeks out through the golden cheesy crust in the finished tart. However, if you’re worried about bitterness, feel free to peel your zucchini. (I don’t find any bitterness with the skin on though.)
I like to slice the zucchini lengthways because you get these beautiful long wide green ribbons, especially if you’re starting with a big zucchini (that’s how we like to grow them here – see this post). If you think you’ll have too much, don’t worry – the zucchini will cook down quite substantially. That said, if you don’t have a mandoline or you can’t face slicing zucchinis lengthways, then slicing thin rounds will be perfectly fine too.
At the same time as you are preparing the zucchini, heat your oven, blind bake your dough and chop your other veggies (and bacon, if using).
What you see below is a shot of the pre-baked pastry with the first zucchini layer, spring onions and bacon, waiting to be loaded with more zucchini, eggs, coconut cream and cheese. It already looks good, doesn’t it?
Creamy and lighter zucchini tart
One thing I have tried in this recipe is substitute the usual heavy (or double) cream which most recipes use for coconut cream.
Heavy cream consists of 36–40% fat and contains dairy so it’s not suitable for everyone. If you use a vegan cheese variety as well as coconut cream, this tart can be dairy-free. (Complete disclosure though, I’ve not tested the tart with vegan cheese so if you do, let me know how you get on.)
I don’t find that the coconut cream changes the taste of the tart, though I find it to be lighter.
This tart also has only one layer of puff pastry, which can be high in calories and fat. Using only one (rather than two – one for the top) reduces the calories load and makes the tart a little lighter.
Finally, zucchini is super nutritious – I have written more on that in a previous post.
That said, the fillings are versatile. I love zucchini in this but if you don’t eat bacon or don’t like spring onion, feel free to use other veggies. I love adding mushrooms to this tart sometimes, delicious!
- about 750-800 g zucchini, sliced thinly on a mandoline lengthways or into rounds (up to you)
- 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted according to instructions
- olive oil
- 6 spring onions (shallots) (white parts only), sliced thinly
- 2 rashers of bacon, diced
- 3 eggs
- 125 ml coconut cream
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (tasty, mozzarella and parmesan), or vegan cheese
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C and spray a round pie baking dish with coconut oil.
- Defrost your puff pastry according to instructions (I leave mine out on a kitchen bench for about 10 minutes).
- While the pastry sheet is defrosting, slice your zucchini thinly on a mandoline, until you have a lovely pile of wide zucchini ribbons. You don't need to peel the zucchini. Now is a good time to also chop your spring onions (shallots) and bacon.
- Once the pastry sheet is defrosted, place it in the baking dish. Gently smooth out the pastry against the bottom of the baking dish and push the pastry against the sides of the dish. Cut off excess pastry carefully with a knife and poke holes in the pastry with a fork – all over the bottom and the sides, to allow the hot air to escape.
- Place a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry layer in the dish and put the stoneware pastry weights or rice on top of the baking paper. (You're trying to weigh the pastry down so it bakes flat and doesn't puff up unevenly so spread those weights nice and even all over the surface of the baking sheet/pastry layer – right to the edges too.)
- Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. (This process is called "blind baking" and it will give you a crispier base pastry layer.)
- In the meantime, in a large frying pan, heat up a glug of olive oil and a couple of pinches of salt and cook the zucchini ribbons for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and cooked down.
- Take the zucchini out of the frying pan and place it into a bowl or on a plate, leaving it aside to cool down. Using the same frying pan, put in the chopped spring onion (shallots) and bacon and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat, until the spring onion has softened and the bacon is a little crispy. Set aside to cool (separately from the zucchini).
- Once the 10 minutes for blind baking is up, you can take the baking dish out of the oven, take off the baking paper with the pastry weights and set aside, leaving them to cool. (Be careful, they will be hot so handle with care!) If I have time, I sometimes pop the tart shell back in the oven, without the weights, for additional 5 to 10 minutes, which nicely dries out the bottom of the tart shell and ensures the bottom of the tart is not wet and soggy when filled.
- Once the pastry is blind baked (with or without the additional 5-10 minutes above), you can start layering your fillings. I usually use half of the cooked zucchini ribbons for the first layer, then the bacon and spring onions for the middle layer and then pop on the remaining half of the zucchini as the top layer.
- In a small bowl, mix the eggs, coconut cream, a pinch of salt and the grated cheese. Pour the mixture gently over the top of the tart, making sure the mixture covers the tart evenly but does not drip down the sides if possible.
- Place the tart carefully back into the oven for about 40 minutes and bake until nice and golden.
- Let the tart cool for 10 minutes or so before slicing (it will be easier to slice the tart if it's not hot) and enjoy with a salad or a veggie side (or by itself).
This recipe gives approximately 6 to 8 servings. The tart can be eaten hot or cold and is also lovely for the kids’ lunchboxes.
This recipe was inspired by the recipe for “Zukes and bacon” from Kate Berry’s cookbook “Family, food and feelings”.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you click on an Amazon link in this post and purchase something, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you very much for your support.