Croustades – made from thin slices of bread pushed into bun tins, brushed with melted butter and baked to crisp – are a great alternative to pastry for savoury tartlets. These are filled with a mixture of onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Both the croustades and filling can be prepared ahead of time.
1 1/2 tablespoons (30 g) butter, melted
12 thin slices white bread
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, about 500 g in total, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (35 g) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1/4 cup (30 g) walnut pieces
Preheat the oven to 230ºC. Lightly brush 12 deep bun tins with a little of the melted butter. Using a 7.5 cm pastry cutter, cut a disc from each slice of bread. Flatten each bread disc with a rolling pin, then press into the buttered bun tins to line them evenly, curving the edge of the bread slightly to make large scallop shapes.
Brush the bread cases with the rest of the melted butter and bake for 8–10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Set aside in a warm place until ready to fill. (If made ahead of time, keep the bread cases in an airtight container.)
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan with a well-fitting lid. Add the onions and stir well. Cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the onions are very soft.
Remove the lid, increase the heat and cook rapidly, stirring, until the onions turn a dark golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If made ahead, cool the filling and keep in the fridge, then reheat just before filling the bread cases.)
Divide the onion filling among the croustades, then scatter the walnut pieces over the top. Serve hot.
The hollows in hard–boiled egg halves make perfect containers for a tasty filling – here carrot and chive – and the eggs look attractive served on a bed of ribbon vegetables and lamb's lettuce. All you need is some bread to make a satisfying lunch.
Couscous is extremely versatile and can be used for both savoury dishes and for sweet ones, such as this quickly made, delicious hot cereal. The couscous is mixed with dried fruit and soaked briefly in hot milk, then topped with fresh fruit, to create something a little different to start the day.
For this savoury version of a classic French batter pudding, sweet cherry tomatoes are baked in a light, fluffy batter flavoured with grated pecorino cheese. Make individual clafoutis, or one large one, and serve for a simple lunch or dinner with bread or boiled new potatoes and green beans.
For these delectable chilli–flavoured omelettes, the eggs are whisked with cornflour to give them a slightly firmer texture, suitable for folding round a colourful and tasty filling of stir–fried vegetables and rice noodles.