Palm Hearts Baked with Cheese Sauce

Serve Palm Hearts Baked with Cheese Sauce with peas or steamed broccoli and Croquettes de Pommes de Terre, for a light vegetarian lunch or dinner.

1 oz. plus

1 teaspoon butter

2 small shallots, finely chopped

6 oz. small button mushrooms, wiped clean and halved

1 tablespoon flour

2- teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 fl. oz. single cream

10 fl. oz. bechamel sauce

4 oz. Emmenthal or other

Swiss cheese, finely grated 2 lb. canned palm hearts, drained and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375 °F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C).

With the teaspoon of butter, grease a medium-sized baking dish and set it aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, ‘melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the shallots and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are just tender.

Remove the pan from the heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate. Set aside.

With a wooden spoon, stir the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne into the butter in the saucepan to make a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the cream, being careful to avoid lumps. Stir in the bechamel sauce and 3 ounces of the grated cheese.

Return the pan to moderate heat and cook the sauce, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes, or until it is thick and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Spoon half of the mushroom and shallot mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with the sliced palm hearts and spoon over the remaining mushroom and shallot mixture. Pour over the sauce, to cover the vegetables completely.

Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and serve immediately.

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