♥ Pastry filled with roasted red peppers, dill almond "feta" and topped with asparagus ♥
Just out of the oven
Together with a simple side salad and chilled champagne it made for a perfect Spring inspired Easter Dinner
So yes! This was our Easter dinner this year and it turned out so beautifully that this AND the Grand Marnier Spiked Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding are going to be the yearly Easter dinner tradition from now on :-) Not that I won't be making other times of the year of course as it's absolutely delicious and would also make great picnic food. I got the idea for this from the November 2008 edition of Cook Vegetarian Magazine. The recipe was by Michel Roux, pastry chef extraordinaire but was a decidedly vegetarian dish using butter and egg pastry and filled with eggs and cream. I've otherwise kept the concept the same here, a pastry lined flan dish filled with roasted red peppers and asparagus.
It didn't take me long to figure out how I was going to veganize this one. Ever since I discovered that the almond feta can be baked straight from mixing to make a pasta bake like I used in the Greek Style Orzo Spinach and Almond Feta Bake I knew this would work. For the same reasons asparagus and parmesan go so wonderfully together so does asparagus with this almond feta. For the pastry I've gone uber simple here and used Jus-Rol ready rolled shortcrust pastry (sorry Michel!). It's labelled vegan, is easy to work with and tastes great but if you want to make your own pastry you could use my basic pastry recipe.
His roasted red peppers were a little more complicated than what I've done here as he made mixed semi-confit peppers, that would be grilled peppers, skinned then left to marinade in a herbed oil. I felt there was no need for that here as the almond feta is so packed with flavour anyway so I simply roasted them using my quick roast method where they are roasted, peeled and chopped.
I kept the almond feta recipe the same but added some freshly ground nutmeg and black pepper and then stirred in some chopped fresh dill. It's my favourite herb and the flavour go so well with the 'feta' and asparagus but you can use whatever herb you like or leave it out altogether. The only change I would make next time is in cooking the asparagus. He boiled his until fork tender then laid them on top and the whole thing was baked. I did this but my asparagus got a little overcooked in the oven. My gut instinct was telling me there was no need to pre-boil them and I think I was right. I would say if you are using large asparagus to par-boil them for a few minutes but if you are using thin asparagus like I did there is no need, simply roast it all together.
We got 6 servings out of the flan and felt they were just right, after all the almond feta is fairly rich and just like with the Greek Style Orzo, Spinach and Almond Feta Flan I served this with a simple side salad - just good quality Irish butterhead lettuce and rocket with some chopped tomatoes, and my favourite mustard-dill vinaigrette. Just like with the orzo dish it's sharp tanginess compliments the richness of the almond feta here perfectly.
Also like the orzo dish, I know this one can be modified greatly to suit your tastes. If you don't like asparagus, tenderstem broccoli would be lovely. Or use zucchini sliced thin and lengthwise to fit the tin. Alternatively you can go for a Mediterranean Flan and fill it with roasted peppers, black olives, spring onion, toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil in place of the dill. Actually, I think that will be my next version of this, sounds too good not to try!! :-)
Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus Almond Feta Flan:
200g ready rolled shortcrust pastry (about)
2 large red peppers
200g asparagus, about 26 spears
Dilled Almond Feta:
150g ground almonds
60ml / 1/4 cup lemon juice
2 large cloves garlic, pureed
118ml / 1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
chopped fresh dill
First, for the flan I used a 13 x 4 x 3/4" tin as I actually had one and it's what he had used for the recipe. I realise this is a specialty shaped tin but you should be able to use any smallish sized tin, pie plate, traditional flan dish etc... This would even work great as tarts! Just keep in mind if you use a much larger sized tin that you'll probably need to double the almond feta. This was a perfect size for the amount I've used here.
You'll need to roast the peppers first and you can do this earlier in the day or even the day before. Preheat the grill in your oven. Wash and dry the peppers then slice the tops and bottoms and remove the stem, membrane and seeds. Slice the peppers in such a way that they will lie flat then lay them skin side up and grill until largely blackened. Scrape them all into a bowl and quickly cover with cling film. Leave them to sweat for 15 minutes. The skins should just peel off now. That being said I have done this when they haven't and it can be quite frustrating! Usually that happens if the peppers are quite young so don't worry if all the skins don't come off, just get most of it off. Now dice them up and place in a bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170C / 340F.
If you are using large asparagus boil them in salted water for just a few minutes. Drain, pat dry and set aside. If using thin asparagus simply wash and dry them trim the asparagus to fit the size of your pan. Don't throw out the leftover bits, you can cook them up and use elsewhere, I had mine in the side salad the next day!
Unroll the pastry, the type I bought was annoyingly round so I had to use 2 and trim it so that it would line the pan. Simply line the pan using your hand to gently press it into place leaving the pastry overhanging the tin. Use a rolling pin to roll over the whole tin which will trim the pastry perfectly.
To make the almond feta, simply add the ground almonds, olive oil, water, lemon juice, salt and garlic to a blender and blend until really smooth. Stop a couple times to scrape down the sides to make sure it all gets blended. Now scrape it all into a bowl and whisk in a few grinds of black pepper, finely grate a little bit of nutmeg in and add the chopped fresh dill.
Scrape this mixture over the roasted peppers and spread it out evenly with a knife until smooth and even.
Now lay the perfectly trimmed aspargus along the tin alternating tip to stalk as you go. Give them a little press down into the almond feta as you go.
Now place the tin on a baking sheet and pop it all into the oven for about 40 minutes. The pastry should be golden at the edges, the asparagus cooked and the almond feta should feel firm to the touch. Place the tin on a wire rack and leave it for 10 minutes to settle and slightly cool. To remove from the tin, I first made sure it wasn't sticking anywhere around the edges by carefully running a knife along the edges. I then placed a chopping board over top and flipped the whole thing over then removed the tin. Thankfully it came off in one go! I then placed another chopping over top and flipped the whole thing over again so that it was right side up.
Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 6.
Sat Fat: 5.4g
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