Vegetarian Delights: Spinach Tartlets and Carrot Souffles

onetartlet.jpg Long ago when I was a college student, barely acquainted with my kitchen and toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian, one of my dearest friends came to visit me and made me a beautiful spinach pie out of rice flour. She cut a sun design into the crust, which completely impressed me- but it wasn’t only beautiful, it was also absolutely delicious. Ever since, I’ve made her spinach pie for holidays and other special occasions, generally using Bette Hagman’s dream pastry recipe or the Gluten Free Pantry perfect pie crust mix. But ever since I had Gluten Free By the Bay’s amazing potato knishes using Chebe Bread mix as a pastry crust, I’ve wanted to try that spinach pie filling in chebe dough. Finally last night I tried it out. I made the sweetest knishes, filled them with spinach pie filling and lovingly sealed them in my presses. I put them in the oven happy and confident that I would be feasting on lovely knish for dinner. Well, I feasted, it’s true- but they were anything but lovely. About halfway through the baking process…they exploded, oozing gooey, delicious filling all over the baking pan. Whoops. So, I shoveled the filling back in, admired the ONE knish which survived intact, and we feasted on them with some homemade carrot souffle that I had found in this month’s edition of Vegetarian Times. They tasted good, but I had to find a way to make them a little more oven proof.

rawtartlets.jpggoodideas.jpgTake two: Fast forward to Wednesday Night, 6pm. Luckily I had made extra spinach filling because I love this recipe to distraction. I decided to try sealed knishes one more time- and also make little tartlets in a muffin tin. After all, the uncovered spinach pie never explodes. I poked pretty holes in the sealed knishes, hoping against hope that might do the trick. and then, I made tartlets, just in case. The tartlets were all that I could ask for. They browned and crisped almost as well as pie crust, and retained their shape even out of the baking tin. But, I’m sorry to report that the sealed knishes experienced certain… difficulties.. and the spinach filling once again made a run for it. *sigh* Ah well… the tartlets made up for any culinary failures, and they were easier to make and (somewhat) healthier than spinach pie. Here’s hoping it can make it into our regular menu, rather than just being reserved for special occasions- it’s too good to only have a few times a year! Try this garlicky, cheesy spinach filling in regular GF pastry or chebe- I think you’ll know why it’s been such a special recipe for me all these years. Oh yes- and the carrot souffle is impressively tasty as well, with better flavor than the simple ingredients would have you believe. Together- they are truly a vegetarian feast!

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Chebe Garlic Spinach Tartlets
Ingredients
Pastry:
Chebe All Purpose Bread mix
2 large eggs
2 tbsp softened butter (or margarine, if dairy free)
5 tbsp milk (or soy milk)
1 tbsp chopped dried onion
1 tsp. (or more, to taste) granulated garlic

Spinach Filling:
1 large bunch of spinach (Separate leaves, throw away stalks. Clean, cook, rinse in cold water and chop)

Cheese Sauce:
1 tbsp butter (or margarine)
1.5 tsp granulated garlic (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp finely ground brown rice flour
1 and 1/2 cups milk (or soy milk)
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (or soy cheese or nutritional yeast flakes or other vegan substitute)

Directions
Prepare Spinach by cooking lightly in a pan with a small amount of water. Rinse with cold water, drain, and chop into bite sized pieces. Reserve.

Make cheese sauce by melting butter in saucepan. When melted add garlic, and brown rice flour. Combine. Add milk, slowly, stirring and letting thicken. When you have a nice white sauce, turn off heat and add grated cheese. When cheese has completely melted, add cooked spinach.

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare pastry by combining all ingredients, and kneading to form a ball. Roll out inside a gallon sized freezer ziploc bag with the sides cut open. Cut squares of dough and create a tartlet in each muffin cavity, letting the dough create a square around the muffin circle so that four dough triangles can be seen. Fill each tartlet around half full of spinach filling and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Notes
I wanted to mention that the quantities for the white cream sauce spinach filling are an estimate… If your spinach bunch is on the small side, you might be safer with 2 bunches of spinach. And, depending on the amount of spinach, you may want to add more milk, garlic, and/or cheese to taste. :) I probably add way more garlic than I posted here, because I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

Also, with the chebe products, I think they taste best fresh out of the oven or re-heated in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or they are chewy rather than crispy. Of course with regular GF pie crust, this recipe tastes great hot or cold.

If I were to plan a menu around this- I might have Bette Hagman’s rapid rise french bread with some olive oil basil dipping oil (with italian spices and balsamic vinegar added to the oil), sauteed mushrooms (or brined shrimp or grilled tofu), and maybe some beets with balsamic vinegar.

Carrot Souffles
Ingredients
3 lb carrots, sliced into one inch pieces
3 lg eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs (I toast frozen GF bread and then run it through my spice grinder/ coffee mill)
1/2 cup dried minced onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Directions
Place carrots in pot and covering them with water, bring them to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 and spray creme brulee dishes or individual gratin ramikins OR *if you must* one large gratin dish.

Puree carrots in food processor. Add eggs, GF breadcrumbs, onion, salt, pepper, and cumin and pulse. Place puree in ramikins, but don’t overfill them- they tastes best when shallow so they get a crispy crust. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is brown and crispy. Carrot souffle should start to detach from sides of dish.

Enjoy.

Notes
I don’t even like cooked carrots, and thought this was excellent. Smells great, tastes great. Mmmm. Good way to get your family to eat more healthy carrots!

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6 Responses to “Vegetarian Delights: Spinach Tartlets and Carrot Souffles”

  1. Thank you Sea! We are having company for Shabbat dinner tonite – I’m going to make the Chebe Spinach Garlic Tartlets. They look delicious. Not sure what else to make. Feel free to email me with any suggestions if you are so inclined!

  2. I’m so excited you’re thinking of making this. I sent you an email, and also added notes to the spinach tartlet recipe. :) (But I sent you the email first, lol) Enjoy!
    Best,
    Sea

  3. [...] This conversation reminded me of my days as a gluten free vegan, cooking at my friend’s college lodging commercial kitchen late at night. (Yes, it was way cool.) My friend was the original genius behind one of my favorite holiday recipes, spinach pie, which you met previously as chebe tartlets . At that time we were both vegan, and vegans that didn’t like nasty processed un-cheese, at that. So, we decided to vegan-ize our favorite recipe and created a very tasty vegan spinach pie. The gluten free vegan diet rules out eggs and dairy, making it ideal for anyone who is both gluten intolerant and has multiple allergies. Many vegan recipes use soy as the base of their dairy substitutions- but you absolutely don’t have to rely on soy anymore, with the prevalence of rice, almond, and even hemp milks on the market. (Which reminds me, I’ve never tried hemp milk- is it good???) So, with those happy vegan memories floating in my head, the other day I set out to create a spinach pie that used nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor without any allergenic ingredients. [...]

  4. [...] Being gluten-free on the road can be difficult, unless you happen to be traveling to some area like Portland, Oregon that has unexpected numbers of health food stores and gluten free bakeries. Luckily, some time ago I came across By the Bay’s brilliant solution to the self-contained meal: gluten free chebe knishes. She took a package of chebe and used the manioc based mix to create a brilliant, pliable dough that can be used for pastries, knish, perogies, and even calzones. The possibilities are endless. My favorite thing is how easy this dough is to roll out and handle- I never thought of pastry as a “weekday meal” option before I discovered Chebe as pastry, but now I don’t hesitate to make baked samosas, spinach tartlets and even calzones as a last minute meal solution. Cool, right? As you can tell, By the Bay’s recipes have really inspired me. But you know what’s better than being inspired by ONE By the Bay recipe? Being inspired by TWO of By the Bay’s recipes at the same time! As part of her un-cooking series, By the Bay featured a recipe for Balsamic Tuna Salad. Maybe I’ve become entirely too obsessed with these chebe meal packets, because as soon as I saw this unconventional tuna salad recipe, I thought that it would undoubtedly taste great baked into a knish! So, some time ago when DH and I planned a road trip to Sacramento and intended to start our trip in the evening, I baked up a big batch of knishes to take with us. Half of the recipe was filled with By the Bay’s potato knish filling, and the other half was filled with balsamic tuna salad! It was absolutely delicious, and very satisfying. The only thing about chebe knishes is that the day after you make them, they really need to be baked in the oven for 10 minutes or so to achieve crispiness, and they’re not very good microwaved. But, since we were chomping in the car relatively soon after I baked them, they were perfect little self contained meals. But, as you know, although I occasionally indulge in seafood, my meal focus is really vegetarian. As soon as I tasted the Balsamic knish, I immediately started thinking of how I could make a vegetarian version. The recipe below is actually my second attempt. The first time I used little white beans, and I was not at all happy with the results. Although usually home baked slow cooked beans are preferable to store bought, in this case the soft mushiness and the bland sweetness of the white beans couldn’t stand up to the vigor of the balsamic sauce. I started thinking about a veggie bean salad I make sometimes, inspired by a trip to Florida, and decided that, since kidney beans hold their own in that vegetable salad recipe with raspberry vinaigrette, they just might stand up to this kind of balsamic vinaigrette. I tried it, and success!(small, right) I was very happy with the results, although I think DH preferred the tuna version. By the way, the main photo for this post is of my version of By the Bay’s potato knish- virtually identical to her recipe except this time I sauteed some pressed garlic with the onions, and I added some turmeric to the dough for color. I’ve also tried her potato knish recipe with portobello mushrooms added to the onion mixture.(small, left) It is delicious, but I think I prefer the original recipe (with garlic). [...]

  5. [...] One of my favorite recipes for holidays and dinner parties has long been a certain spinach pie recipe that one of my dearest friends shared with me. This recipe combines simple ingredients with amazing results, and is a great way to enjoy your spinach! The most time consuming part of this recipes has been the rolling out of persnickety Gluten free pastry crust. I have made very tasty pie crusts using Bette Hagman’s Dream Pastry recipe, the Gluten Free Pantry’s Perfect Pie Crust Mix, or even just winging it with a regular pie crust recipe converted to be gluten free, but they are admittedly time consuming. Some time back I had the exciting idea to use a Chebe mix to make Gluten Free Chebe Spinach Tartlets with very yummy results. I was also inspired by the amazing Karina and her new allergies to make a Dairy Free Allergy friendly spinach pie recipe. But this wasn’t the end of my experimenting with this recipe. Recently DH and I discovered the extremely dangerous (for our waistline) and delicious gluten free prepared pie crusts made by the Whole Foods GF Bakehouse. They cost about $3 per crust in California, where prices are higher than the south or east coast that is closer to their dedicated baking facility, but it is a price that seems worthwhile to me due to the time and effort involved in rolling out dough. DH has been busy making apple and pumpkin pie. For the apple, because the crust doesn’t have a top crust, DH threw together a yummy crumble and topped the pie with that. It was perfect! However, I had been eying the last crust in our fridge covetously for some time, and finally decided to try using it for a savory spinach pie. I was VERY glad I did- but it really does become a health hazard, as DH stubbornly refuses to eat anything involving that much spinach (he is the first person who has not raved about my precious pie recipe, wouldn’t you know it), so I end up having to eat the whole thing myself. This is day three, and it’s a tough job but I guess I’ll just have to have the last slice for my lunch. Oh, the agony. Woe is me. Yum yum yum yum. Anyway, this is a subtle variation of previous recipes, with gently caramelized onions and fresh garlic to add extra flavor to the recipe. The Whole Foods pie crust makes this recipe so easy, if it weren’t for the calories, I might be tempted to have it every week… Oh yes, and if you don’t want the butter in the Whole Foods crust, or don’t live near a store but still don’t want to roll out a darned thing (and who can blame you!) why not try converting this into an unconventional Spinach Cottage pie? Take leftover or freshly made garlic mashed potatoes and top the spinach filling with that. DH gave the cottage pie version thumbs up- although he mostly ate the topping, tsk tsk tsk. So, here are two EASY ways to enjoy spinach pie, just in time for the holidays. Keep in mind that when hot the filling is somewhat liquidy- but when cold it’s nice and firm, so it just depends on how important structural integrity is to you. The pie tastes great hot OR cold. [...]

  6. [...] Here are some of my other riffs on spinach-garlic goodness: Dairy Free Spinach Pie – can be vegan with the right pie crust or the shepard’s pie topping Spinach Pie or Shepard’s Spinach Pie Non-vegan Spinach Tartlets using Chebe Non-vegan [...]

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