Monday, January 09, 2012

Chard and Ricotta Tart


Here's an interesting dessert for you to try: A chard, raisin, pine nut and ricotta tart. I recently made this recipe from David Tanis's Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys and was pleased with the results. While chard may sound like an unlikely candidate for a dessert ingredient, Tanis revelas it is a traditional ingredient in sweets in the South of France and Italy. Sure enough, my sister who spends each summer in Nice, immediately identified this unusual tart as similar to a traditional Niçoise dish.

The pastry puffs up quite a bit making it more cake-like than what I would normally label a tart. Overall it's not too sweet and it tastes just as nice the day after as it did the day I made it, making it a perfect mid-morning treat with some coffee. Tanis recommended serving it with mint tea, which I did for our guests.

Side note: I couldn't resist photographing it on these Provençal linens from Williams-Sonoma, which were a wedding gift from my sister and her boyfriend. Aren't they lovely?


Chard and Ricotta Tart
From David Tanis's The Heart of the Artichoke

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
Grated zest of ½ lemon

For the filling:
1 large bunch Swiss chard, trimmed, ribs discarded, and cut into ½-inch-wide strips (about 4 cups)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water until plumped
¼ cup pine nuts

Directions:
1. For the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the flat beater, mix the dry ingredients on low speed. Add the butter and mix for about 2 minutes more, until crumbly. Add the egg mixture and the lemon zest and mix another minute, or until you can pinch the dough together. Turn the dough out and form 2 balls, one twice as big as the other. Chill for at least an hour.
2. For the filling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the chard for 1 minute; drain well. Let cool, and squeeze out any liquid.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, sugar, lemon zest, and spices.
4 . Dust a pastry cloth with flour and roll out the larger dough ball into a circle 2 inches larger than the diameter of your 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin, then carefully unroll it over the pan and gently press it into place, so that it comes about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Expect the dough to be pretty soft; if it tears, just press on a scrap to cover any holes.
5. Drain the raisins, mix them with the greens, and spread over the dough in the pan. Pour the ricotta mixture over the greens and smooth out. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the ricotta.
6. To make the lattice top, roll out the second piece of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the dough into ¾-inch-wide strips. Fashion a lattice top by alternating crosswise and lengthwise strips. Leave a gap of ¾ inch between strips running in the same direction. Fold the edges of the bottom crust over the ends of the lattice strips.
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cool on a rack before serving.

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