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Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 03:31 pm

Mushroom-farro tart


This tart is sophisticated and gorgeous – a perfect substitute for vegetarians at Thanksgiving tables who’ll eschew dressings made with sausage, oysters, etc.; and/or stuffed inside the turkey. And it’s so delicious it’ll seduce the most outspoken non-vegetarians. Farro and spelt are ancient grains related to wheat. Spelt is available at Food Fantasies and in some groceries. The place to find farro locally is at Angela’s Taste of Italy, 1535 MacArthur Blvd., 217-787-7922. Puff pastry can be found in the freezer section of most groceries, though it’s usually made with flavorless vegetable shortening. All-butter puff pastry is widely available online

  • 3/4 c. farro, spelt, or pearl barley
  • 3 c. water or vegetable stock
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or more or less to taste
  • 1 1/3 cups scallions, divided
  • 1lb. sliced cremini mushrooms (a.k.a. Baby Bellas)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 c. Madeira, or medium-dry Sherry
  • 1 c. ricotta, preferably whole milk
  • 1 lb. puff pastry, thawed if frozen, preferably made with butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the filling:

In a medium bowl, cover the farro, spelt or barley with cold water and soak for 45 minutes. Drain, discarding the soaking water.

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the farro, 3 cups of water or vegetable stock, and a large pinch of salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.

While the farro cooks, melt 1 T. each of the butter and oil in a very large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and half the scallions, and cook until softened, but not browned, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to the stove and raise the heat to high. Add the remaining butter and olive oil, and when they’re hot, but not smoking, add the mushrooms, stirring constantly. It’s important not to crowd the pan. If your skillet can’t hold all the mushrooms in a single layer, do this in batches. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms are browned and cooked through. When they’re ready, you’ll hear a squeaking sound as you stir them.

Add Madeira and simmer for a minute. Transfer to a bowl, stir in farro, then cool completely.

Stir in ricotta, remaining scallions, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To roll out the puff pastry:

If pastry is in 1 piece, cut into 2 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch square. Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet, or an upside-down rimmed baking sheet. Put one of the pastry squares on the parchment, cover with another parchment sheet, top with the second pastry square, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. The pastry and the filling can be prepared ahead to this point and kept, refrigerated separately for several hours and up to 3-4 days.

Assembling and baking the tart:

Put a large baking sheet on rack in middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove the top pastry square and the sheet of parchment underneath it and set aside.

Spread cooled filling evenly over remaining pastry square that’s sitting on the parchment atop the baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.

Brush the border VERY lightly with the egg. Place the second pastry sheet evenly over the top, pressing down all around the inch border to seal.

Lightly brush the top with remaining egg, then crimp border with a fork or your fingers; trim with a pizza wheel or sharp knife. Cut a few small vents in top in a decorative pattern.

At this point the completely assembled tart can be tightly covered and frozen several weeks ahead. Remove the tart from the freezer several hours before baking until it is mostly thawed but still cold.

 Slide a wide spatula or two narrow ones under the parchment beneath the tart and gently slide the tart and parchment onto preheated baking sheet in oven. Bake until puffed and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Let cool for 15-30 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

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