Monday, 25 June 2012

Courgette, Goat Cheese & Mushroom Tart - without pastry!

Number 3 of my recipes for the Capricorn challenge is this savoury tart with a pleasing mixed consistency and rich, tangy flavour. Its sort-of Unique Selling Point is that it has no pastry and is wheat-free - the case is a crunchy rice-based shell which has its own tempting taste. It's a nice one to make for anyone avoiding wheat for whatever reason.

This is dear to my heart, as around twenty years ago, I suffered unexplained but severe abdominal pains and a great weariness. The NHS kindly tested all parts of me for possible causes, even considering the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as I'd been to Bangladesh (to see the work of a charity) not long before. Eventually I discovered the problem myself: the symptoms came on severely a couple of hours after eating a salad sandwich on wholemeal bread. Bingo! For about three years after that I went to enormous trouble to avoid wheat, though within a few days I was back to my normal bouncy self - couldn't believe it at first. Eventually I cautiously took a small amount of wheat and built up, and after that my diet became normal. Result! Anyway, back to the job in hand.

This recipe will serve 4-5 as a main course, and it can be eaten straight from the oven, warm, or at room temperature (e.g. at a picnic). It takes about 90 minutes from start to serving. It has quite a number of ingredients and stages, but they aren't difficult. A number of alternatives are listed for the ingredients, with the most suitable first.

Courgette, Goat Cheese and Mushroom Tart in a Rice Case
The oven should be heated to 175C or 160C for fan, shelf in the centre. 
A non-stick straight-sided flan tin or oven-proof dish is needed, ideally about 4cm deep and 21cm in diameter. For insurance, the base should be lined with a baking parchment circle. (Place tin on parchment, draw round the outside of the base, then cut just within the line.
100g risotto rice (otherwise long grain is fine)
150 courgettes (approx 1 large or 2 medium), trimmed and sliced fairly finely
75ml stock (or water)
60g Emmental cheese (or cheddar), coarsely grated
3 free-range eggs (1 with yolk/white separated)
2 tsp cornflour
80ml milk
30ml double cream
60g goat cheese (pref Capricorn), crumbled
100g mushrooms, trimmed and sliced fairly finely
1 level tsp grated nutmeg

1  Bring 600ml water to the boil in a large pan. Add the rice and simmer for 15 mins until
          just softening. Drain in a colander, run cold water over to cool it and drain again.
2  Meanwhile, put the courgettes in a small pan with the stock or water. Bring to the boil
          and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain well and pat gently with kitchen paper 
          to remove some more of the liquid.
3  Place the rice in a bowl with 40g of the Emmental/cheddar and the egg white, and mix
          thoroughly. Press over the base and sides of the lined tin to make an even case
          with no gaps. Bake in the oven for 5 mins then allow to cool a little. (Keep oven on.)
4  Place the cornflour in a medium bowl and add a little of the milk. Stir to a smooth paste
          and then add the remaining milk, the cream, the 2 whole eggs and single yolk, 
          mixing well. Stir in the goat cheese, mushrooms, courgettes and nutmeg.
5  Pour this filling into the rice case and smooth over, making sure the 'bits' are evenly
          spread. Sprinkle the remaining 20g cheese over the tart and bake for 30-35 mins
          until it is puffed up and browned all over.

The crunchy rice shell is very versatile. The vegetables can be endlessly varied; I'm thinking tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, chopped tenderstem broccoli or artichoke hearts, with added thyme, walnuts or toasted pine nuts. And now I'm really hungry!

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