Meat-Free Monday: Earthy Falvours

Wild Mushroom Tart with Walnut Shortcrust Pastry



I got the recipe for the walnut pastry from a Gordon Ramsay recipe in which he makes a goats cheese and mushroom tart. My sisters are for ever complaining about me using goats cheese, for some reason they do not like goats cheese, so I decided that I would swap the goats cheese for cream cheese and Parmesan. I was a little concerned (less for texture and more for flavour) with swapping the goats cheese for cream cheese and Parmesan. Goats cheese combines beautifully with wild mushrooms, their common denominator of an earthy flavour compliments each other without over-powering. Together with the walnut pastry a perfectly harmonious orchestra of, earthy flavours is created My challenge would be to make a tart that if not equal in harmony, but in deliciousness .



To make my tart a little more interesting, and I suppose to mimic an earthy-like flavour, I decided that I would use rosemary, lemon juice and nutmeg to flavour the tart. Rosemary is a wonderful aromatic, earthy herb that works beautifully with walnuts and when used in a cream-based filling its powerful flavour becomes a beautiful delicate, subtle fragrance. The nutmeg adds another level of t fragrance and a nutty, earthy flavour. The lemon juice cuts through the rich cheese and cream and brings the tart to life.



The walnut pastry works brilliantly with the the wild mushrooms, but you can, if you like, use plain shortcrust instead. The pastry is delicious, however I found it quite difficult to work with – it was very short and crumbled very easily. I served the tart with a side salad and found the cherry tomatoes and olives in the salad paired beautifully with the flavours in the tart. This tart is best served straight from the oven, however (and I cringe as I write this) they do re-heat quite well in a microwave.

p.s. Please excuse the sacrilegious cooking/re-heating pastry faux pas.

Wild Mushroom Tart  with Walnut Shortcrust Pastry:



For the walnut pastry


200g plain flour, sifted

100g finely ground walnuts

Pinch fine sea salt

100g cold unsalted butter, diced

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

1-2 tbsp whole milk, to bind


For the filling


25g unsalted butter

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 small to medium onion, finely chopped

300g mixed fresh wild mushrooms
, sliced

tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary

½ to 1 teaspoon of nutmeg (depending on your taste)

juice of half a lemon

zest of a whole lemon

2 large free-range eggs

200 g cream cheese

¼ cup of grated Parmesan

125 ml double cream

salt and pepper,  to taste




To make the pastry, put the flour, walnuts and salt into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Add the cold diced butter and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Tip in the egg, and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a dough (add a little milk if necessary). Tip the dough on to a floured surface and knead gently. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a R5 coin, then use it to line a 23cm tart tin with a removable base. Press the pastry into the edge of the tin and leave a little excess hanging over the edge. Chill for at least another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the garlic and onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the rosemary , nutmeg and mushrooms and some salt and pepper, and fry over a high heat for 4-5 minutes until any moisture they release has been cooked off. Sir in the lemon juice and zest, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

4. Preheat the oven to 190C. Line the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15-20 minutes 
until the sides are lightly golden. Remove the foil and beans and return to the oven for 5 minutes more until the base is golden and cooked. Remove the pastry case from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, trim off the excess pastry to the rim. Reduce the oven to 170C.

5. Place the eggs, cream cheese, Parmesan and cream in a bowl and beat together until smooth. Season well and pour the mixture over the base of the tart. Top with the sautéed mushrooms and onion and bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is just set and the top is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before unmoulding. Serve with a side salad.



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