For me the gastronomic highlight of April – and indeed one of the highlights of the year – is beet tops, once they’ve run to seed. I love their nutty flavour, either steamed or gently sautéed in butter, and served as a green vegetable. Better still, combine them with sharp, salty feta cheese in this delicious tart, a lunchtime staple in my kitchen in the spring.

© Cuveland/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Beet top and feta tart


  • Oil or butter for greasing
  • Shortcrust pastry Made with 350g plain flour, 175g cold butter, a pinch of salt, one egg and cold water to bring the dough together
  • Flour For dusting
  • 8 Beet tops Rinsed and chopped
  • 175g Feta cheese Diced or crumbled
  • 300ml Crème fraiche
  • 3 Eggs
  • 100ml Whole milk
  • Salt and pepper


  • STEP 1

    Preheat the oven to 180/350.Gas Mark 4, placing an oven rack in the lower part of it. Grease a 30cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

  • STEP 2

    Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is large enough to line the tin.

  • STEP 3

    Put the beet tops into a pan with just the water that clings to them after washing. Cover with a lid, cook over low heat for about 5 minutes until wilted. Let cool, then drain and spread over the bottom of the pastry case. Sprinkle with the feta.

  • STEP 4

    Put the crème fraiche, eggs and milk into a bowl and beat together.

  • STEP 5

    Pour this mixture into the pastry case and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, until just set.

  • STEP 6

    Take the tart out of the oven and carefully slip off the outer ring of the tin, leaving the tart sitting on the base. Return to the oven on the baking sheet for another 5-10 minutes so that the sides get really crisp


Having studied at Kew Gardens and spent two years at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel, Aaron Bertelsen is now vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter. His book, The Great Dixter Cookbook was published in March 2017.