Vegetarian recipe: Pastry-free spinach tarts with porcini sauce (Italy)

 

This isn’t a tart in the traditional sense – more like a light mousse that simply melts in the mouth.

I first fell in love with it in a small restaurant in Alba in Italy's Piedmont region.

The establishment is sadly no longer there but I still make this for friends and it never fails to delight.

And as a veggie dish, it means everyone can enjoy the same thing – no need to have too many plates spinning.

TIP: This porcini sauce is just as delicious as a standalone sauce for pasta or gnocchi. 

Spinach tart recipe

 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE 'TARTS'

600g cooked or frozen spinach (with all water squeezed out)

25g unsalted butter

1 x tbsp onion (finely chopped)

2 x eggs

100g parmesan (finely grated)

200ml double cream

3 x tbsp fresh orange juice

Grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1 x handful of fresh breadcrumbs 

FOR THE PORCINI SAUCE

25g dried porcini mushrooms

50g unsalted butter

2 x tbsp flatleaf parsley (chopped)

1 x garlic clove (finely chopped)

Salt and pepper

150ml single cream

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C and heat butter in a pan, gently sautéeing the onion until soft.
  2. Add the spinach and saute for 5 more minutes, then blend to coarse puree in a food processor.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs with the parmesan, then add the cream, orange juice, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper before mixing thoroughly with the spinach mixture.
  4. Generously grease 8 ramekins with butter, making sure the bottoms are well covered, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs – shaking out any excess.
  5. Fill with the spinach mixture and place in a bain marie with the very hot water coming 2/3rds of the way up, then bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Turn out onto heated plates and serve with the porcini sauce on the side.
  7. For the sauce, soak the dried porcini in 250 ml of hot water for 30 minutes, then strain while reserving the liquid.
  8. Gently fry the parsley and garlic in the butter until soft, then add roughly chopped porcini, frying for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Adding 3-4 tablespoons of the soaking liquid and season with salt and black pepper, before adding the cream to the sauce and serving (If the sauce seems a bit dry, just add a little more of the reserved soaking liquid from the porcini).

Enjoy with some quality cereal bread and plenty of good white wine.

Two excellent partners are Ciabot Berton’s Favorita and Astoria’s Pinot Grigio Alisia.