Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fennel and Mushroom Tart

While most people easily associate quiche with French food, allow me to introduce you to its lesser known cousin, vegetable tarts.

Tarts are the original street food of France, sold in bakeries by the slice and consumed at lunch, or anytime for a light snack. I discovered them in this fashion when I spent my junior year of college in Paris and was delighted to find that they are less eggy than quiche, which sometimes I find overwhelming.

A good tart is really defined by its crust and not too much filling. Its construction differs from quiche in that you layer the ingredients instead of combining it all together and then pouring it into a crust. In true peasant style, these tarts originated as pulling together lots of leftovers - extra pie crust, cooked vegetables, cheese and some eggs. It's a wonderful savory dish that tastes great hot or cold.

Fennel and Mushroom Tart

1 unbaked pie crust(or make it yourself as noted here)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz white mushrooms, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
5 porcini pieces, rehydrated in 2 cups boiling water
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup swiss cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, beaten
goat cheese, crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie crust for 10 minutes and remove to cool. Turn oven up to 400 degrees. Remove porcini pieces and mince. Bring small pot of water to boil and parboil fennel pieces for 5 minutes until tender but still have some crunch. Drain and chop. Saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add both mushrooms and thyme and cook on medium heat until mushrooms give up liquid. Remove from heat. Fill tart by sprinkling half of each cheese across bottom of crust. Spread mushroom onion mixture across top of cheese and evenly distribute fennel across top of mushrooms. Cover tart with remaining cheese. Pour beaten eggs over tart and swirl to evenly distribute. Sprinkle goat cheese on top if using. Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut and serve.


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