I LOVE THIS TART. It’s filled with mushrooms and spinach. It’s perfumed to the nines with rosemary and vermouth. And oh, the crust! It’s buttery Pate Brisee. Who wants to taste this savory spring symphony?
As a testament to this tart’s deliciousness, I ate the entire thing. And I don’t regret a single bite. You, on the other hand, might like to share it with friends at your next lunch party. Depending on appetites, the tart will serve 4 to 8 people.
To start, make the Pate Brisee dough. The recipe for this fabulous French pastry is described in detail here. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you’d like to make the dough well in advance, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to one month (if not one year).
Can you use store-bought crust for this tart? Maybe. But I hope you won’t.
Because nothing — nothing! — beats Pate Brisee.
While the crust is chilling, prepare the filling. First, thaw the frozen spinach. You can thaw it overnight in the fridge, or do what I do: Stick the unopened box in the microwave, and cook on “high” for exactly 4 minutes.
Let the thawed spinach drain briefly in a colander, and then pour it onto a clean tea-towel. Twist the towel as shown, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. You’d be amazed at how much water spinach contains — I drained at least one cup from my previously-frozen block.
Do you love the scent of fresh rosemary? Honestly, I could swim in the perfume.
When I visited Charleston, South Carolina, I noticed that several homes had rosemary hedges. Yes, hedges. And this made me very jealous. Because rosemary is not hardy here in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Cover the skillet until the onions and mushrooms become soft — about 2 minutes. Then uncover, and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated — about 10 minutes.
When the vermouth hits the hot pan, it will emit one of the most glorious fragrances known to the culinary world. A fragrance that must be experienced to be believed.
If I were a perfumer, I’d synthesize the scent of simmering vermouth, and have it bottled as a cologne.
I’m not kidding.
Back to our tart-making. Once the vermouth has boiled away, remove the pan from the heat.
While the mushroom mixture is cooling, prepare the cheese base. Pour ricotta, Parmesan, and a big pinch of rosemary into a medium bowl. Stir with a green spatula until all ingredients are combined. Set aside.
Don’t have a rimless sheet? Use a regular baking sheet, turned upside-down.
As insurance, set the sheet in the freezer for 2 minutes. You want the dough to be cold for this next step.
Notice how I slopped bits of filling on the side of my dough? This happens if you pleat with one hand, and take photographs with the other.
Probably your pastry will turn out much neater-looking than mine.
A tender, buttery, crust…a soft, savory filling…a heavenly perfume…what more can you ask of this Mushroom, Spinach & Rosemary Tart? Promise me you’ll make this rustic beauty some day. It’s excellent for lunch. A lunch that includes a bottle of champagne.
Need a copy-and-paste version of the above recipe? Here goes:
Mushroom, Spinach & Rosemary Tart
Adapted from various sources
For the crust:
Single crust Pate Brisee, thoroughly chilled (recipe here)
For the filling:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 box frozen spinach (10 oz), thawed, drained, squeezed dry in a towel, and chopped
1/2 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry French vermouth
For the cheese base:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
The filling – Heat butter and oil in a skillet set over a medium-high flame. After the butter melts and foam subsides, add the onions, mushrooms, spinach and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook until the onions and mushrooms are soft — about 2 minutes. Then uncover, and toss the ingredients about with a spoon or spatula until the mushrooms have rendered their juices — about 5 minutes. Add the vermouth; stir. When the vermouth has boiled away, remove the pan from the heat.
The cheese base – Pour the two cheeses and the rosemary into a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
Rolling the dough – Roll the dough into a 12-inch diameter circle. Gently fold into a triangle as shown, and then unfold on a buttered (or vegetable-sprayed) rimless baking sheet. Set the sheet in the freezer for 2 minutes to firm up the dough. (Don’t have a rimless baking sheet? Use a regular sheet, turned upside-down.)
Filling and forming the tart – Spread the cheese mixture on the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Spoon the mushroom mixture atop the cheese. Then fold the 2-inch border of dough over the filling, making pleats every 2 inches or so. Gently pinch the pleats to seal.
Baking – 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Set the oven rack at the lower-middle position, and bake the tart until the pastry browns — 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then slide the tart onto a platter or wooden board. Dust with freshly-grated Parmesan. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
A little encouragement: You can prepare the pastry dough, the filling, and the cheese base up to three days in advance. Then you can simply assemble and bake the tart.
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