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Meat Free Wednesdays: Gluten Free Vegetarian Italian Tart with PestoPotato Scones

Mondays suck. They really do. You wake up (barely), you push your aching head through morning meetings, you eat your anemic and depressing green salad for lunch as penance for your shocking over-indulgence on the weekend, and you almost die of boredom and sluggishness as the afternoon draaaaaaaaaags on. Why in the world would anyone then want to come home to anything other than a giant slab of meat slathered in sauce with a side dish of prawns and bacon?

Meat free Mondays do not work. If a man has a broken leg you don't break the other one! You serve him a steak and wrap it in ham just for an extra kick. Meat free Wednesdays, however, work just fine. It's hump day! Tomorrow is Thursday, then the greatest time of the week. Friday afternoon.. By Wednesday our minds will accept the body blow that is a meal that doesn't cater to our carnivorous nature. The funny thing about my Italian Tart and Pesto Potato Scones is that they are so freaking good you'll end up doing away with meat free wednesdays in favour of its over-hyped brother just so you can revel in the lovely alliteration!

My other Italian 'tart'

What's more, this meal is delightfully gluten free! Yes, short crust pastry is normally a bit tricky to make gluten free. If you're in to mixing your flours as I am, I recommend only using 2, and one must be a starch. For this particular recipe I used Quinoa flour and Tapioca Starch (arrowroot). I've also used Besan (chickpea) flour and once Potato flour in place of the Quinoa, because let's face it, we're time poor but we're also money poor. At least I am. Severely. You can use Potato Starch or definitely corn flour in place of the tapioca, and buckwheat or sorgum in place of the quinoa will give you a wonderful dark hue to your pastry and a deeper, almost smokier taste. But, if you're normal and don't have hours to waste tweaking pointlessly, go pick up some standard issue gluten free plain flour and it will do the trick!

The potato scones are an absolute gem to have in your arsenal. I make mine with lashings of my home-made pesto, and again any flour will do. Today I used Quinoa (I was in a super-food mood), but starches work best, they bind a little more aggressively. If your scones aren't keeping their shape consider either throwing them in the fridge for half an hour to set, or just dusting with more flour and giving them a bit of a knead (like you would a dough).

I cooked this today and had it all done in an hour. I won't be so audacious as Jamie Oliver and throw a ridiculous time limit on this. Give yourself 90 minutes for prepping and cooking. It sounds like a lot but it's worth it, and as you get better you will be much quicker at it. Follow the method step by step, I'll walk you through the order in which I did everything. 

Ingredients for Tart:
250g Pumpkin, cut in to a 3cm dice
1 large Brown Onion
1 Carrot, sliced in to 3cm rounds
2 tbs Olive Oil
2 tsp Sea Salt
 1 1/2 Gluten Free flour mix (I used 1 cup Quinoa Flour with 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour, use this ratio of starch to flour when substituting)
1 tsp of Xanthan Gum (omit if using a ready mixed GF flour blend)
150g butter, roughly chopped
1/4 cup ice water
2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup grated Cheese
1/4 cup strong Parmesan
1 punnet of Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup of pitted Kalmatta olives, sliced
1/3 cup of cream
6 eggs at room temp

Ingredients for Potato Scones:
500g Potato (any variety will work), cut in to thin rounds
40g Butter
1/4 cup Pesto paste (I use my home-made stuff)
2 tbs strong Parmesan
1 cup GF flour (starches work best, try corn flour or tapioca starch. Again, any flour will do)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbs olive oil

Method (for entire meal):

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius (180 fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper, and grease a 23cm, 3cm deep fluted tart pan. Place your pumpkin, onion and carrot on the baking tray and drizzle with all of the olive oil and sprinkle with all the sea salt, tossing to coat. Bake for 25 minutes (or until pumpkin is soft enough to mash). When finished, do not turn the oven off. 

2.  Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl, add a cup of water and microwave on high for 9 minutes or until potato is soft and ready for mashing.

3. Meanwhile, let's make the dough. Sift the flour and xanthan gum in to either a large bowl or food processor. Add the butter, and mix or process until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the water gradually, mixin or processing as you go. Mix until a dough forms.

4. Turn the dough out on to a heavily floured surface, and knead until smooth and no cracks show (about 5 minutes). Shape in to a rough disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refigerate for half an hour.

5. Remove the vegetables from the oven and place in a large bowl. Briefly mash. If the veggies aren't pliable enough to mash, zap them in the microwave for 90 seconds. Pour the balsamic vinegar in to the mixture, and add both the cheeses. Continue to mash until all ingredients are combined. Add the tomatoes and olives and fold them through, being careful not to crush the tomatoes. Set aside.

6. Whilst we wait for our dough to chill, let's make the potato scones. Add the butter, Pesto and Parmesan, and mash thoroughly, looking to achieve a smooth consistency. Add the flour and the baking power and with your hands, mix until incorporated. Put mixture in fridge to chill and set.

7. Turn the pastry on to a lightly floured surface, top with a sheet of baking paper and roll until 4mm thick (still round). Drop it in to the tart pan, trimming any overhanging pastry. Cover the top of the pastry with baking paper and weigh it down with pie weights or beans. Bake for ten minutes, remove paper and weights and bake for a further 12 minutes (or until lightly golden).

8. Pour the vegetable and cheese mixture in to the dish. Whisk 2 of the eggs and the cream in a bowl, and pour over the top. Top the mixture with the remaining 4 eggs. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until just set.

9. Turn your potato mixture on to the same lightly floured surface and briefly knead in to a 10mm thick square. Cut triangles, rounds, squares, dodecahedrons, whatever you want out of the dough. Be creative! Re-knead any potato dough scraps and re-cut.

10. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pan until fragrant. Drop the scones in (if you have a lot, do 2 batches, using the same amount of oil). Listen to them sizzle! Cook each side for 3 minutes or until browned to your liking.

11. Serve!

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