This winter weather has me craving warm, comforting flavours and oven-baked goodness for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I love cooking with winter vegetables and fortunately, there are plenty of options to turn on the oven for. So when I stumbled upon a bag of Jerusalem artichokes and a left-over batch of chestnuts, I immediately knew how they should end up: in a creamy, crisp-cased, herby mushroom tart.
Unlike what the name suggests, Jerusalem artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem and are only very distantly related to artichokes. They’re the edible tubers of the sunflower variety Helianthus tuberosus. The “artichoke” part of the name mainly refers to the resemblance in flavour, whereas the “Jerusalem” part is most likely a corruption of the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. In Northern Europe, these nobbly little sunchokes are now at their best and their slightly sweet and nutty flavour pairs wonderfully with other root veg and strong-flavoured herbs like rosemary and thyme. For this tart I briefly parboiled them and combined them with roasted chestnuts and my all-time favourite mushroom, shiitake, for a strong savoury kick.
A classic savoury tart consists of a delicious, buttery crisp shortcrust case and a rich cream and egg filling. When you decide to leave out the butter, cream and eggs and insist you’re still baking a quiche, it may seem almost pointless to even start, which is why I’ve postponed this particular project for quite some time. But I strongly believe that with a little practise and inspired cooking, you won’t have to miss out on anything if you’re eating a plantbased diet and this certainly holds true for quiche!
There are plenty of options to create the creamy filling and for this one, I used a combination of silken tofu and homemade cashew cream. For the case I used my almond shortcrust pastry, which I use for almost any sweet and savoury tart, because it’s delicious and dead easy to make and use. When you’re short on time, though, you could of course opt for shop-bought shortcrust pastry instead. With soft-cooked onions, juicy and garlicky fried mushrooms, a generous dose of fresh herbs and sweet and nutty sunchokes and chestnuts, this tart is crisp-cased, creamy-filled and full-flavoured as a good tart should be. It’s delicious for dinner, accompanied by a simple green salad and any left-overs make a lovely lunch.
Mushroom tart with chestnuts and Jerusalem artichokes – serves 4
- 80 g raw cashew nuts, soaked in cold water for a few hours, or overnight
- 1 batch of almond shortcrust pastry, or 500 g ready-to-roll shortcrust pastry
- 200 g pack of cooked and peeled chestnuts, or 450 g freshly roasted chestnuts, peeled
- 500 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2 tbsp. rapeseed or olive oil
- 200 g shiitake mushrooms, brushed and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs to garnish
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs to garnish
- 300 g silken tofu (if you can’t get hold of silken tofu, mix 300 g of firm tofu and 130 ml of almond milk instead)
- 1 tbsp. buckwheat flour or gram flour
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- a few tbsp. almond milk, to thin the filling if needed
If the cashews aren’t pre-soaked, put them in cold water and leave them to soak until using.
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Brush a shallow ∅30 cm or long rectangular tart tin with oil and dust it with rice flour.
First, prepare the pastry case. Lightly knead the dough and place it onto a floured sheet of baking parchment. Flatten the dough a little, then cover it with a second parchment sheet. Roll out the dough until it’s a few cm larger than the tin and about ½ cm thick.
Line the tin with the pastry. Prick the base all over with a fork to prevent it forming air bubbles. Cover the pastry case with one of the sheets of baking parchment and weigh it down with baking beans or dried rice. Blind bake the case for 10-12 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and beans. Leave to cool.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the sunchoke slices and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain and leave to cool.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the sliced mushrooms and fry until browned all over. Add the onion, garlic and chopped herbs and fry until the onion is soft and translucent. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the cream filling, drain the cashews. Put the nuts, the tofu and the buckwheat flour into a blender and mix until smooth and creamy. The mixture should be thick and pourable; when too thick, add a few tablespoons of almond milk. Season well.
Build up the tart by scattering half of the chestnuts, sunchoke slices and mushroom mixture over the bottom of the pastry case. Pour over the cream filling, then top with the remaining veggies.
Return the tart to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the filling is set and lightly browned. When it browns too quickly, loosely cover the tart with aluminium foil, then remove the foil just before the end of the cooking time.
Serve the tart hot or at room temperature, scattered with the remaining sprigs of rosemary and thyme.