Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spinach and 'Gruyere' Tart in a Three-Pepper Crust

This tart makes a very hearty vegan entree, almost like a quiche but without the eggs. It does require quite a bit of time, so don't make this on a busy night! I recommend having a chilled bottle of Beaujolais on hand and sipping a glass or two while you cook...

Start out with the crust: in a food processor, combine one cup flour (spooned into a measuring cup and leveled with a knife), 1/2 tsp. salt and a 1/4 tsp. each of three types of pepper - ground black, ground white, and ground red. Pulse a couple of times. Add 3 tablespoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), chilled and cut into small pieces. Pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs (about 4-5 times).

Pour the mixture into a bowl and add four and a half tablespoons ice water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with your fingers. Don't form a ball, even though it's tempting to do so! (To make ice water, just fill a bowl with cold tap water and add ice cubes so it is extra chilled).

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times, then place on plastic wrap and pat into a 4-inch circle. Cover with the plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Place two sheets of plastic wrap on a lightly dampened surface. Place the chilled dough on top of that, then top with two additional sheets of plastic wrap. Through the wrap, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 10-inch circle. (I know this sounds complicated, but it makes perfectly intuitive sense once you're doing it). Place the dough in the plastic wrap in the freezer for 5 minutes. 5 minutes later, remove one layer of plastic wrap. Place the crust (uncovered-side down) in a 9-inch pie tin coated with cooking spray. Remove the remaining plastic wrap, and press the dough to fill in the bottom and sides of the pan. Line the bottom of the crust with a layer of parchment paper, and top that with pie weights. If you don't have pie weights (which I do not), dried beans work in a pinch (which I have) - sprinkle in enough to completely cover the bottom of the crust.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes; the crust will be a light golden brown. When it comes out of the oven, carefully remove the parchment paper and pie weights/dried beans, and cool completely on a wire rack.

While it's baking and cooling, prepare the filling!

To start, bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 4 yukon gold potatoes (1lb. total) and cook for 20 minutes until tender. Let cool, then slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and cook 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water and one 10-oz bag fresh spinach. Cover and cook until the spinach wilts (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cool.

Once everything cools down, assemble the tart: spoon half the spinach mixture evenly over the bottom of the crust. Top with half the potato slices, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 cup grated 'cheese'. Instead of gruyere, I used the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods. Repeat the layers with the rest of the spinach mixture, the rest of the potato slices and another 1/4 tsp. salt. Although the recipe didn't call for it, I added about a 1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon here, since that is another one of the goodies currently in my fridge from my friend's garden - it added a great touch!

Next, the original recipe called to pour in an 8-oz container of egg substitute. Since even egg substitute is made with real eggs, make 8-oz worth of vegan egg replacer instead, such as Ener-G. Pour over the tart. Finally, top it all with an additonal 1/4 cup grated 'cheese'.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before slicing. You'll have 6 wedges of 260 calories.

If I were to do this over again, I would make sure to wrap the crust up over the lip of the baking tin. By not doing so, my crust shrank back slightly in the baking process, and was thus harder to fill. It still tasted great, but wasn't quite as aesthetically-pleasing!

yukon gold potatoes $1.03
onion $0.86
fresh spinach $2.50

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance