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.
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
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
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°C and heat butter in a pan, gently sautéeing the onion until soft.
- Add the spinach and saute for 5 more minutes, then blend to coarse puree in a food processor.
- 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.
- Generously grease 8 ramekins with butter, making sure the bottoms are well covered, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs – shaking out any excess.
- 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.
- Turn out onto heated plates and serve with the porcini sauce on the side.
- For the sauce, soak the dried porcini in 250 ml of hot water for 30 minutes, then strain while reserving the liquid.
- Gently fry the parsley and garlic in the butter until soft, then add roughly chopped porcini, frying for a further 10 minutes.
- 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.