Algerian Vegetable Melange in Pastry Shells
This simple, but elegant holiday dish is served at the Aferiat home. Yolande Aferiat, from Oran, taught her daughter-in-law Kathy how to make it, and Kathy, who now lives in Dallas, described it to me. Kathy’s use of peas rather than fava beans is a sign of the Americanization of Yolande’s traditional dish.
- Place the carrot slices in a 1-quart saucepan and cover with salted water. Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for approximately 10 more minutes, until the carrots are tender but still firm. Set aside.
- Rinse and drain the olives. In a small covered saucepan, boil them in water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cut crosswise into 1⁄4-inch slices. Set aside.
- Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over high heat for 15 seconds. Add the olive oil and heat for another 10 seconds.
- Mix in the diced onions and sauté until they’re soft and medium golden brown.
- Stir in the garlic and mushrooms.
- When the mushrooms are soft and lightly golden, add the flour.
- Stir for about 1 minute, until the flour is totally incorporated.
- Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly so that the flour dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken.
- Add and combine the cooked carrots, sliced olives, and frozen peas. Cover the pan and simmer the vegetables until the peas are just cooked—about 4 minutes. Check for seasonings and add as needed.
- Bake the pastry shells, following the package instructions.
- When ready to serve, remove the center “lid” of dough and place the vegetable mélange in the cavity of the pastry. Garnish with minced parsley, if desired. Serve at once.
- Avoid using yellow-green bay leaves in your dishes: they’re old, and may add a bitter taste. Instead, seek out freshly dried, bright green, firm, and only slightly brittle bay leaves for their earthy-sweet, subtle flavor. You’ll be very glad you did.