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Food: French lentil, roasted mushroom tart with savory almond topping

Further adventures in savory frangipane. If it’s savory, is it still fragipane? Either way, it’s delicious.

Though many-layered, this tart is actually quite simple. It’s a standard flaky pate brisée crust, with rosemary and black pepper added for deliciousness. On top of that we have a layer of french lentils sautéed in port wine and balsamic vinegar. Lentils might seem like an odd ingredient in a tart, but they add real substance and texture, and their lovely meaty flavor. And the mushrooms are chopped chunkily and roasted, so that when the savory almond custard is baked all around them, it’s almost like a savory clafouti or toad-in-the-hole. If I do say so myself, and I do, the whole thing turned out super-tasty.

CRUST – one batch pate brisee, add 1 t minced rosemary.

LENTILS

2 T butter
3 sage leaves, or 1/2 t dried sage
1 heaping cup of french lentils, cooked like this, with plenty of shallots and garlic. You won’t use the whole batch, but this is a good way to use up leftover french lentils. If you make a fresh batch for this, the rest are wonderful tossed in a sald or with pasta, or just eaten as a side dish.
1/3 cup port wine
2 t balsamic

Warm the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. When it starts to brown, add the sage leaves and cook till they’re sizzly. Add the lentils and stir and cook till they’re quite warmed through. Add the port and balsamic, and cook till they’re reduced and syrupy. Keep cooking until the pan is quite dry, and remove from the heat.

THE MUSHROOMS

10 oz white mushrooms or baby bella, quartered lengthwise
olive oil to coat (about 2 T)
1 t rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the mushrooms with the olive oil and herbs, and spread them in a single layer on the sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes till they’re crispy and brown. Set aside.

THE CUSTARD

2 eggs
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1/2 t salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

Combine almonds, milk and eggs in the food processor or blender and process till smooth. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper

TO ASSEMBLE

Preheat the oven to 400

Roll out the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. Butter and flour your tart pan, and spread the dough evenly inside and up the sides, cutting off the extra. Slash it in a few places, or prick with a fork.

Prebake your tart shell for about ten minutes, pressing the dough back up the sides if it starts to sag. I find, with a tart pan, it makes it a bit easier to put the whole tart pan on a cookie sheet, if you can fit it.

Remove from the oven.

Spread the lentils in an even layer on the bottom of the tart pan. Arrange the mushrooms over the lentils. Pour the custard over everything. If you like, arrange a few sage leaves on top for decoration.

Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, till the top is puffed and golden. Let it cool for a minute before you remove the outside of the tart pan.

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