An exciting dark tart of zhouged mushrooms, black olives and sage

“What is the most underrated ingredient?

Mushrooms. They are really versatile and full of flavour. You don’t need to go for expensive ones either.”

José Pizarro, interviewed in The Sunday Times

This is an easy to make, exciting tart of zhouged mushrooms – the excitement comes mostly from the zhoug, with the sage and olives cheering it on.

What is zhoug, and what can you substitute for it?

Zhoug is now used liberally throughout the middle-east, but originally it is a Yemenite Jewish recipe. It’s a herb and chilli paste with a grassy kick. You could substitute rose harissa – which is quite a lot hotter, so use less and maybe add some fresh herbs; or you could use zhoggiu sauce, which is milder.. and add a few chilli flakes.

It’s available, ready-made, in jars. But to find out how to make your own (not difficult) follow this link.

Personally, I like to serve this tart with yoghurt, or with tzatziki, or with an exotically earthy saffron sauce – follow this link for how to make that.

If you are vegan, simply substitute a vegan (made with almond or coconut milk etc) yoghurt. You’ll also need to check the filo pastry is vegan.

This tart freezes well.

Serve this with an avocado and rocket (or watercress) salad with an oily lemony dressing.

Recipe for an exciting dark tart of zhouged mushrooms, black olives and sage

Serves 2


  • 100g/¾ cup pine nuts
  • 60g/4 tbsps zhoug
  • 120 ml/½ cup crème fraîche (or you could use mascarpone)
  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  • 10 pitted black olives (use the Crespo ones)
  • 4 sheets of filo
  • 300g/10 oz interesting, meaty mushrooms (if you have found you have bought a 250g pack, add in a few soaked, dried mushrooms from your larder)
  • about 10 sage leaves
  • ½ tsp Urfa pepper flakes
  • olive oil for all sorts of uses
  • a drizzle of truffle oil
  • 200 ml/¾ cup yoghurt, or tzatziki, or saffron sauce
  • if you really want to go over to the dark side, mix in a little (a clove or two) black garlic to the mushroom mix


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the zhoug with the crème fraîche. Add the pine nuts.
  3. Clean and halve the mushrooms, and mix them with a tablespoon of olive oil, the salt, the Urfa pepper flakes, and the black olives. Snip in most of the sage leaves. If you are lucky enough to have any black garlic, mix that in too.
  4. Line a very small roasting tin or pie dish, or an aluminium foil baking tray – approx 18cm x 11 cm/7 x 4.5″,  with baking paper, and brush it with oil.
  5. Lay a sheet of filo into it. Brush with oil. Lay another filo sheet on top, at a 90° angle. Brush with more oil. Do the same with the remaining sheets of filo. There should be loads of overhang to fold over once you’ve filled the tart.
  6. Spread the zhoug mix over the base of the tart. Put the mushroom mix over it. Fold over the overhanging filo pastry. Bake for 25 minutes (the filo should have turned golden).
  7. Drizzle over some truffle oil, snip over the remaining sage leaves, and serve with the yoghurt, or tzatziki, or saffron sauce.
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