Cottage cheese and feta cheese combine with the mushrooms to create a beautifully simple yet luxurious tasting flan. Serve it either hot or cold. Also tastes lovely the next day when all of the flavours have really sunk in.
Perfect hot or cold, nothing beats a slice of flan! This dish is a perfect dish to make if you are entertaining vegetarians, because it is perfect served as a dinner or a lunch.
It is a very rich recipe, as it contains feta as well as cottage cheese, so it has a very luxurious and expensive flavour. I love adding cottage cheese to dishes that require creaminess. It develops such a wonderful, mozzarella-like stringiness to it when cooked, that I often use it as a replacement for mozzarella in recipes and also as a replacement for parmesan in dishes like risotto, where you want the creaminess, but may want less calories.
One of the best things about this flan is the base. The base has the perfect amount of sturdiness and crunch. It’s also very easy to make, so I highly recommend making more than 1 at the same time and freezing the extras. This means you can quickly eat flan anytime!
To create the flan and the perfect base you will need to blind bake the base first. Blind baking prevents the dreaded soggy bottom that often happens when you are cooking something very wet on top of a pastry base, it also prevents the base from shrinking away from the pie tin when cooking.
The easiest way to blind bake is to:
- Put your rolled pastry base into the baking tin
- cover the base with tin foil
- cover the tin foil with a baking weight. I use ceramic baking beans but you can use dry rice as a weight or dry beans such kidney beans etc.
- Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the tin foil and the baking beans and then bake for 5 more minutes without any weight. This will ensure that you have the perfect crust and it can now be either frozen or filled with your flan filling ready to be cooked.
- For the pastry:
- 1½ cups wholemeal flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 125 g olive oil spread (or butter, softened)
- 1 courgette, grated
- 4 Tbsp cold water
- For the filling:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ red onions, sliced
- 4 portobello mushrooms
- 1 large tomato, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 courgettes, grated
- ¼ cup low fat cottage cheese
- 100 g feta cheese
- 4 eggs, free range
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
- salt, for seasoning
- pepper, for seasoning
- First make the pastry by putting the salt and flour into a bowl and adding the courgette and the olive oil spread/butter. You want to mix in the olive oil spread/butter with your hands so that it creates a crumbly mix.
- Sprinkle in the water and mix until you get a dough.
- With your hands, shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and then put the pastry into a greased baking tin. I use a fluted edged tin which is 30cm round, and which has a removable bottom.
- Pierce the bottom of the pastry with a fork and then blind bake for 15 minutes and then bake normally for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the oven and leave to cool.
- To make the filling, fry the onions, mushrooms and rosemary in a pan with olive oil, until the onions are translucent and soft, but not browned. (approximately 15 minutes).
- In a bowl combine the cottage cheese, ⅔ of the feta cheese, eggs, courgettes, salt and pepper and whisk lightly. Add the onions and the mushrooms to the mixture.
- Pour the ingredients into the pastry base and carefully place the sliced tomato on top.
- Sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese and bake for 15 minutes until the filling is set. All ovens are different so your mixture may not set in this time. If it doesn't just turn the heat down a little and continue to cook until the mixture is set (lowering the heat of the oven will cook it without burning the top).