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Caramelised fennel and grape tart tatin with saffron and olives

Midweek Main
Serves 4 as a starter
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min

This tart straddles the line between sweet and savoury. We like to serve it as a starter or for lunch, with a zingy green salad and some good-quality tinned sardines.


1 tbsp plain flour
1 x 320g sheet all-butter puff pastry
2 large fennel bulbs (550g)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp demerara sugar
80g fridge-cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
¼ tsp saffron, steeped in 1 tbsp boiling water for at least five minutes
+ salt and black pepper, plus ⅛ tsp flaked sea salt
70g seedless red or green grapes
45g pitted green or black kalamata olives, roughly chopped


  1. Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7, and line a large oven tray with baking paper. Dust a clean work surface with the flour. Gently roll out the pastry until you can easily cut out a 28cm circle, then trim and keep any excess for another use. Transfer the pastry circle to the lined tray and chill until needed.
  2. Trim 1cm off the top of the fennel stalks, and save any fronds to garnish the tart later. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice the rest of the stalks until you get to the bulb, then set the sliced stalks aside. Cut both bulbs in half lengthways, then cut each half into six (or four if the fennel is on the small side) roughly 3cm-wide wedges.
  3. Put a tablespoon of oil in a medium, 26cm, ovenproof saute pan set over a medium-high heat, then lay in the fennel wedges cut side down, sear for two minutes, then turn on to the other cut side and repeat until golden. Sprinkle over a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then transfer to a plate.
  4. Rinse and wipe the pan dry, then return it to a medium-low heat. Add the sugar, butter, the saffron and its soaking water, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and stir to combine. Gently heat for three minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to bubble and caramelise, then add the grapes and fennel tops. Take the pan off the heat, arrange the fennel wedges on top with one of the cut sides exposed and scatter over the olives.
  5. Lay the cold pastry on top of the pan and gently tuck in the edges so the filling is completely covered. Using a small, sharp knife, make a small cross on the top to allow the steam to escape, then bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and deeply golden. Remove and leave to rest and cool for five minutes.
  6. Put a 30cm-wide plate on the pan, making sure that there aren’t any gaps. Then with one hand on the plate and another on the cool pan handle (use a tea towel if it’s still hot), invert the pan to flip the tart on to the plate. Sprinkle the reserved fennel fronds on top, together with the flaked sea salt, and serve hot.