Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Tartlet with Asparagus and Pine Nuts

This is a recipe that I invented on a Saturday afternoon, looking at the ingredients in my fridge and using my creativity. If I may say so myself, it turned out very well indeed!

Ingredients: 2 sheets puff pastry cut to fit your tart pan accordingly or 1 pre-prepared tart case and one sheet puff pastry for the top; 250 g asparagus spears, blanched; 200 g mushrooms sliced; 1 white onion, sliced finely; 4 pods garlic, minced; 250 g spinach, wilted and chopped; 100 g pine nuts, toasted; 100 g cream; 1 egg; salt and pepper to season; Parmesan cheese; olive oil

Method: If using the puff pastry, spread so it lines the tart pan’s base evenly, pressing the edges with your fingers to ensure there are no air bubbles. The pastry must be long enough to reach up the sides of the tart pan. Fork holes all over and blind bake at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes. If using a pre-prepared tart case keep it out and ready for filling.
Sautee the onions and garlic until translucent, add the mushrooms until softened, but do not allow them to sweat. Remove from heat, set aside in a mixing bowl. In a food processor blend spinach, cream, toasted pine nuts, egg (leave a third of the egg in a bowl to brush the top of the pastry) pepper and salt into a smooth paste and add to mushroom mixture in bowl, fold well to ensure and even mixture. Remove the puff pastry tart from oven or take the pre-baked tart if using, spoon the spinach and mushroom cream mixture into the case, spreading it out evenly then lay the asparagus, spears facing outward and stalks at the centre of the tart over the spinach and mushroom mixture in a concentric circle. Top with a good grating of Parmesan cheese. Take the other sheet of puff pastry that has been cut into a circle to fit as a lid and carefully place it on top of the filling, stretching it at the edges to meet the pastry from the base of the tart. With a fork press the edges together. Use the remaining egg that has been set aside to brush the top of the pastry to ensure it bakes to a golden, brown crisp. Bake in oven at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes.
Serve with a nice big leafy salad. I like to use a honey-mustard dressing with this recipe to dress my salad as the flavours are contrastingly complimentary.

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Tartlet with Asparagus and Pine Nuts

Honey- Dijon Dressing

A quick, delicious dressing perfect for summer salads, absolutely light and refreshing

Ingredients: 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard, 3 tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tsp Honey, a dash of balsamic vinegar or verjuice, ½ tsp Italian dried herbs, 6 pickles or gherkins sliced finely, Salt and Pepper to season, dash of Lemon juice.

Method: Whisk all the ingredients together in the serving bowl itself, to avoid having to lose any when transferring later. A combination of lettuce greens works well here: Oak and butter lettuce with rocket for a peppery kick and sliced tomatoes.

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