There is a bug going around as I write this. It has passed dispassionately through my family and has now introduced itself to me with a moist and clammy handshake. As a result, the well-meaning plans of productivity I had for the day (paint the hallway, go shopping for ingredients) have taken a back seat to more chilled activities. The most productive I have been so far is to learn the C, D and E chords on the piano, something I shall no doubt have forgotten by tomorrow. One thing I am fairly certain I won’t be doing much of today is cooking.
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Thankfully, I always keep a small supply of already worked on recipes stored on my computer for writing up. This Vegan Tart of Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese is one such recipe, made and photographed just over a week ago and waiting to be shared.
This is a delightful and filling dish that will easily feed 6 people. It can be served either with a salad or some boiled new potatoes (or a combination of the two). The pastry is thick and crumbly (you will want a deep dish for this recipe) and the filling substantial and rich in flavour. The vegetables are steamed beforehand, so that they are just undercooked, and then finished off in the cheese sauce while the tart is baking. You can serve it straight out of the oven, but it will be more solid if you let it set first. I let mine chill in the fridge overnight once it was cooked, then reheated it in the oven the next day.
You’ll want to blind bake the pastry first, so that you have a firm and crisp pastry for the final dish. This needs to be done twice, once with baking beans in and again without them, to allow the pastry to be fully dry before adding the filling.
I’ve used diced tofu in the filling itself, in much the same way I make scrambled tofu and vegan omelette, combining it with gram flour to make a thick sauce that sets. It’s advisable to get as much moisture out of the tofu as you can prior to cooking, and I would certainly say drain it for at least an hour, which you can do while doing the rest of the prep.
This is a cheese tart and vegan cheese can be quite difficult to melt when sprinkled on the top of something. A good way to combat this is to add moisture. For this tart I brushed water over the top with a pastry brush a couple of times during cooking, which really helps it to melt. A water spray gun will also do the same thing. You can also employ this same trick with pizza.
The pastry in this recipe isn’t gluten-free, so if you need one that is, use the pastry from my Roasted Fennel and Broccoli Quiche.
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Tart of Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese
- Easy to make Gluten-Free
- For the Pastry:
- 300 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp gram chickpea flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 g vegan butter diced, plus extra for greasing
- 75 g vegetable suet make sure it’s vegan
- 120 ml vegan milk
- For the Filling:
- 1 small head of fresh cauliflower broken up into florets
- 1 head fresh broccoli cut into florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion sliced
- 400 g extra firm tofu drained for about 1 hour then diced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 3 tbsp gram chickpea flour
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 400 ml vegan milk
- 100 g vegan cheese grated
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp mild chilli powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To Top:
- 75-100 g vegan cheese grated
- A small amount of tap water for brushing
- First make the pastry. Put the two flours, baking powder, salt and vegan butter into a large mixing bowl and run between you fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (this takes about 5 minutes). Now add the vegetable suet and mix in, then pour in the vegan milk. Mix with a table knife until you get large clumps forming, then bring together with your hands to form a dough. Try not to overmix the dough. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow it to firm up.
- While the dough is chilling, steam the cauliflower and broccoli until they are softened a little but still reasonably form. You will need to cook the cauliflower for longer than the broccoli, so put that in first. Once done, drain and submerge in cold water to stop the cooking process until they are ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F and grease a large pie dish about 26cm in diameter and 5 cm deep.
- Roll out the chilled pastry to just beyond the size of your dish (allowing also for the lip). Line the dish with the pastry and press down and against the edges. Trim any excess away with a knife. The pastry will be quite thick in the dish. Use the knife to cut 2 slits in the bottom of the pastry, then line with greaseproof paper so that it covers all of the pastry. Fill with baking beans or dried rice and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully remove the paper and baking beans, then put the dish back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes, until the pastry is dry on top. Remove and set aside.
- Turn the oven down to gas 5/190C/375F.
- Now make the filling. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or wok and gently cook the sliced onion for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the diced tofu and cook for another 8-10 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges, then put in the garlic and give it another 2 minutes or so.
- Mix in the gram flour, the nutritional yeast and the stock cube and cook through for a couple of minutes, then gradually pour in the vegan milk, whisking as you go, to get a smooth sauce. Now add the grated vegan cheese, the nutmeg and the chilli and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 4-5 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then turn off the heat.
- Carefully run a potato masher through the mix to break up the tofu a little, then stir in the broccoli and cauliflower. Pour the mix into the cooked pastry then sprinkle on the grated cheese. Brush the top with a little water then bake in middle of the oven for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown on top. You can take the tart out a couple of times during cooking to brush more water on top to help the vegan cheese melt.
- Once cooked, allow to fully set before serving (see notes above the recipe).
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