Even though I'm now located two states away, I still receive the Mondo Organics email newsletter each month. Amongst other news there's always at least one recipe included, and this month it was for mushroom, silverbeet and cashew tart with oaty pastry. I had two incentives to give this a go: first, I have a stash of raw cashews left over from my vegan ice cream; and second, I bought an oven thermometer on the weekend! Ellie tipped me off on Cake Deco, a fabulously crowded and slightly ramshackle shop of all things baking, located in an arcade off Flinders St. I picked up the thermometer for about $10 and enjoyed browsing through the cake pans, biscuit cutters and other decorative kick knacks.
Anyway, the ladies at Mondo have always been mindful of vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free eaters and their recipe caters for all of them.* (That's one of the reasons I've dubbed it greenie pie!) I substituted the soy milk for dairy, since it's what we always have on hand but the recipe remains both vegetarian and gluten-free. I think it's intended to be a quiche-like dish and the cashew-spinach mix does have a soft, light texture. I initially found its colour a bit alarming - it looks like the "I don't know" goop from You Can't Do That On Television! The pastry had a pleasant taste but was a bit tough and crunchy: I think I overcooked it, and adding a bit more oil might also improve the consistency. Even so, I suspect that spelt flour pastry isn't ever going to quite achieve the elasticity of dough made with wheat flour. The tart made for an enjoyable dinner, but it was quite time-consuming and I'd probably be more inclined to repeat Michael's asparagus and mushroom tart before this. However I would consider giving it another go if vegan or gluten-free-eating guests ever turn up!
On the side are fresh sliced roma tomatoes (Will's recommendation from the Queen Vic Markets) and finely diced cauliflower and potato, baked in a little olive oil and then tossed in a teaspoon of za'atar. I liked these so much I made them again for the next night's dinner.
*Edit 02/02/07: Since writing this post, a bit more internet research has shown me that spelt is not actually gluten-free, although it can be eaten by some people who are intolerant of wheat flour. If you think you have health problems related to gluten or wheat flour, please take dietary advice from someone more in the know than me!
(adapted from the Mondo Organics January 2007 e-newsletter)
250g spelt flour
25g ground almonds
25g sesame seeds
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (next time I might increase this to 4 tblsp)
Mix together the flour, oats, ground almonds and sesame seeds in a bowl. Make sure your hands are clean, and mix in the soy sauce and olive oil with 'em. Gradually mix in cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the pastry holds together but isn't too wet. I used about 6-8 tablespoons of water, but next time I'd increase the oil and hopefully much less water would be necessary. I suspect my dough was a bit wetter than it should have been, anyway. Let the pastry stand for 10 minutes.
The recipe says, "roll the pastry out until it becomes difficult to roll". Frankly, this was immediately. It took a bit of effort to gently roll and then smoosh together the cracking bits, but eventually I had a slab of pastry roughly 4mm thick and circular. Grease a pie dish and gently fit the pastry inside: this took Michael, me, and some gentle slow-mo work. Poke some small air holes in the pastry with a fork and bake it at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow the pastry to cool before filling.
My thermometer tells me that our oven heats to the required temperature much faster than it lets on, and then overheats some time after that. It probably could have done with a bit less than 10 minutes!
8 mushrooms sliced
1 onion, finely sliced (I'd reduce it to half an onion next time)
200ml olive oil (I used at most 150mL, and you could try reducing it further)
200g raw cashews
250g silver beet, washed (I used English spinach, 'cause the shop was out of silverbeet)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds (I used 1/2 tsp whole black mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp hot mustard powder)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cider vinegar
paprika to dust
Saute the onions and mushrooms in a little of the olive oil until softened. The recipe instructs you to spread these over the pastry case, but next time I would wait and stir them through the green mix instead.
Grind the cashews in a food processor, then add the silverbeet/spinach, milk and spices. I had to add the greens in a couple of batches to fit it all into my small processor. With the motor running slowly, add the remaining oil (most of it, I hope!) and the vinegar. If you haven't already spread them over the pastry, stir in the mushrooms and onions then pour the mixture into the pastry case. (I had a lot of green goop left over.) Sprinkle the tart with paprika and bake in the centre of a 180 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is firm to touch. I ended up baking mine for much longer, because a knife in the centre came out gooey, but it turns out that's OK! This is not going to set all the way through like eggs would. You'll have to be a bit gentle, but it will still be possible to cut fairly clean slices.
Serve hot or cold: my room-temperature leftovers were just fine!