Monday, January 14, 2008


Another simple, solid recipe from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast. Ironically, I was going to make this tart into a pizza, using Trader Joe’s pizza dough instead of puff pastry called for, both because it seemed healthier and because I’m interested in the mushroom/spinach/onion combination on a pizza. But Trader Joe’s sabotaged me by running out of pizza dough that day, so puff pastry it was. And while A argued that the butteriness of the puff pastry is a necessary foil for the earthy tastes of mushroom, spinach, and goat cheese, I found myself wishing for the more neutral taste of pizza dough, but perhaps that’s because the puff pastry got a bit overdone. Either my puff pastry sheet was too small (Trader Joe’s all-butter puff pastry comes in a two-sheet 16-ounce package), my baking sheet was too crappy, or the baking times in this recipe are a bit too long. Anyway, the darkened puff pastry tasted bitter to me, and combined with the fact that I don’t totally love goat cheese (I think there’s something musty about it) and the aforementioned earthiness of the mushrooms and spinach, it had me longing for a brighter note in the flavors, besides the sweetness of the onions—maybe garlic or parsley?—or a different kind of cheese—maybe Fontina? I’ll have to play around with it. But even with my reservations, I would not refuse to make this again as is (being more careful not to darken the pastry, though). It was easy to make, and those with more affection for goat cheese (like A, who was enthusiastic) might find it downright delectable.

Postscript, 2/21/08: Consider my reservations overcome. I made this again last night and (as the photo above shows) it came out beautifully. Using a double layer of baking sheets and keeping a careful eye on the puff pastry as it baked rather than relying on the recipe's time measurements, I was able to avoid overbrowning the crust, which fixed a lot of the bitterness problem. I sauteed a couple of cloves of minced garlic with the mushrooms, which added a nice flavor (I also wanted to sprinkle minced parsley over the finished tart, but I got too lazy--maybe next time). I'll admit that I experimented on a small corner of the tart, using grated Gouda instead of goat cheese, and preferred that. But even the normal goat-cheese parts tasted way better to me this time around. Also, can I just testify that I love this method of caramelizing onions? I always have trouble getting them suitably tender before they get too brown, and had never thought to cover them and let them steam. I'm going to do this all the time. Thanks, Everyday Food!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package)
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
20 ounces white or brown mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, toss the onion with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking with the cover on for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. While onions are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the mushrooms; cover and cook until tender and all liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Fold in the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes more. Drain off any liquid.

4. When puff pastry has thawed, roll the dough out on a floured surface into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Place the pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score the dough to form a 1-inch border. Using a fork, prick the dough inside the border every ½ inch. Bake until golden, rotating the pan once, about 15 minutes.

5. Top the dough with the mushroom-spinach mixture. Scatter the onions and goat cheese on top. Bake until the cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes

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