Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Crostata-- don't forget the Leeks!

I have heard that if someone is having an Open House, hoping to sell their home, that baking cookies is a way of leaving a warm and homey scent for prospective buyers. I can tell you, that if you make this recipe, that you will return home to find the Realtor, and anyone who has viewed your home, waiting for a slice of this!

I have been a huge fan chef of Anne Burrell, ever since I watched her as Mario Batali's Sous Chef on Food Network's Iron Chef. I record her show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,  and she never fails to inspire me to try her recipes. Sure, she's a bit zany with how she talks to her food (hello my lovelies...) and how she gr-r-r-r-owls her words when she describes things. Her wild spiked blonde hair is fodder for people to make fun of, but I don't care. The woman is a chef and she can cook!  If I could have private cooking lessons from any Food Network Chef (other than Tyler Florence, whom I got to meet and chat with-- and he's totally approachable and talented), I would pick Anne.  I love her spunk!  On the day that I watched Chef Anne making this savory crostata, my husband had just asked when I was going to cook the Swiss Chard that I pleaded with him to plant. My husband is the green thumb of the family. (I tend to "forget" to water plants. He doesn't.)  I was delighted to find a recipe that would be a perfect for one of my favorite leafy greens!


 Before I show you how to make this, there are a few key ingredients that you will need.  Mascarpone Cheese is a must!  It's Italian cream cheese, and it's a little pricey (I paid $4.99 for a tub), but it's creamy and silky...and it's really what makes this crust so tender and flavorful.  You need Parmesan Cheese, too. Not that cheap stuff in the green can in the supermarket, please!  You can finely grate the cheese in the food processor, or buy it already grated. But, please buy the Parmesan from the deli case. Thank you.


Last night, I made the crust dough, which took all of 15 minutes.  That's what I love about my food processor. If you don't own one, roll up your sleeves and use some elbow grease and a pastry cutter.

To unbleached flour, I add grated Parmesan cheese, marscarpone, cayenne pepper (don't skip this, it's perfect) and ice cold butter, cut into small pieces.  Don't worry about the recipe. You will find a printable card at the bottom of this post.  Pulse, pulse, pulse, until the dough looks crumbly-- like Parmesan cheese. Now add two cold eggs.
NOTE: We want cold products so that the butter stays in chunks in the dough. This expands, while baking, creating tender and flaky dough.

Pulse a little more, just until it reaches the "ball" stage. Stop!  Remove the dough, and form into a ball, and then gently pat into a disk.

Wrap this in plastic wrap. (See the cayenne pepper flakes? These are going to add to the flavor of this crust.) Put it in the fridge, for at least 45 minutes. I like to do this a day or two before. Less cleanup, less fuss...

Swiss Chard is in season, where I live. it's easy to grow.  I bought two large leafs from my local farm stand; I wasn't sure if I had enough growing in our container.  You need two leeks.  I love leeks. They're a staple in my fridge. Cut it lengthwise and wash it, prying each layer open to wash out any sand. I guarantee, you will find sand! Cut the leeks into thin "half moons". 

Cut off the stems of the chard-- this feels like celery, when cutting. Look how much brighter the freshly cut chard stems are! Gorgeous color! Set those aside. Chop the chard leaves and set them aside.  Grab two cloves of fresh garlic and some red pepper flakes. It's showtime!  With the flat of your knife, smash the clove of garlic.  Remove the paper skin, and set them into a pan with olive oil, on medium heat.  Add a pinch of cayenne (about 1/2 teaspoon).

Let the garlic cook until a golden brown. Remove the garlic cloves-- as Anne Burrell says, "it has fulfilled it's destiny", so toss it. We now have garlic infused oil, which smells fantastic!

Now, we add the leeks and swiss chard stems and 2-3 Tablespoons of water.  Cook, until tender (2-3 minutes) and season with kosher salt (2-3 teaspoons). Please, do not use table salt!  You'll write that this tasted like a salt lick. Kosher salt only! Sorry, but I'm passionate about my salt. If you insist on table salt, use less than half of what I do, okay? The water should have evaporated by now. Add the Swiss Chard greens.

Taste the Swiss Chard, and add a little more salt (only if necessary). Let the chard wilt for a couple more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.  Now, for the filling:

This step wasn't in the directions, but I decided to measure 2 cups of fresh ricotta cheese into a fine strainer. I set it over a bowl, covered, overnight in the fridge. I didn't want to risk any liquid to cause my filling to run.

I add one cup more of grated Parmesan and two eggs...

Give this a nice stir... what's next?

Ah, the crust! Do not be afraid! Crostatas are so forgiving.  They are "rustic", so they can look a bit ragged around the edges.  Preheat the oven to 375F. You need a baking sheet. If you have parchment paper, I'm going to show you an easy trick. Flour a clean, smooth surface with some flour-- or, flour the parchment paper, that's on top of the clean surface.

From the center of the dough disk, roll away from you. Make a 1/4 turn. No, not you!  Turn the dough! (I couldn't resist.) Roll. Repeat. Roll...and so on. There!  If you rolled this on parchment paper, just lift the whole thing onto your baking sheet.  I love my French rolling pin!

 Don't worry about overhang...

You'll see why in a moment...
 
 Now, add the cooled vegetables and give this a gentle stir. I see no reason why this step can't be done ahead of time. So, now let's put the whole thing together...

 Spread the filling in the middle of the crust; leave a 3-4" border. This is very important!

This looks good...

Now, fold the edges over. Like this...

An egg wash (whole egg with some water, whisked) will make the crostata shiny and golden. I can hardly wait!
 I popped this into the oven for 50 minutes.  I wish I could bottle the scent of this crostata, as it bakes! It drove me wild, it smelled so good!

 Hello, Lover! Just 15 more minutes for it to cool.  I've whipped up a salad for the side...

Fresh strawberries, kiwis and butterleaf lettuce with a honey poppy seed dressing. Delicious!

I am crossing my fingers that this savory crostata is flaky and tastes as heavenly as it smells...

I anxiously cut into this crostata...
Here goes...

VERDICT: If you watch Anne Burrell's show, you know that her arms fly up when she tastes her food.  It's a victory dance she does. Well move over. I did a victory dance and moaned and shrieked with delight.
OMG!! The pastry has the perfect balance of nutty and salty Parmesan.  The red pepper flakes are perfect. The crust is tender and moist-- this is going in my Hall of Fame Recipe File.  As for the filling-- perfection.  There was one ingredient missing, to round off this dish. I'll show you...

Ahhhhhhhhh. That's the ticket! A glass of cold white wine rounds out this lunch/brunch meal just right.  Life is good. This recipe is better than good. I cannot wait to invite our vegetarian friend over for dinner. I'm definitely making this again.   I hope you try this crostata. It's not that hard to make, and you will cook like the pros.  Anne Burrell rocks!

Enjoy!







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21 comments:

Joanne said...

I love that you have all of my favorite ingredients in here! Swiss chard, ricotta, mascarpone. It's like an Italian dream...in pastry form!

baking.serendipity said...

This looks amazing! I've heard of baking before potential buyers come into your home a lot lately. Must be the newest tricke!

Proud Italian Cook said...

You convinced me Deb, I'm making this!

Kim said...

Oh my goodness Debby!! This recipe is a gem. I truly love swiss chard with all my heart and simply have to try this one. Bookmarking for sure:)

P.S. I love Anne Burrell too. I especially love that she is true to herself and doesn't put on airs for a show. You can tell that she is passionate about what she does!

Big Dude said...

This looks and sounds too good. Must try it soon.

bellini valli said...

Chard really is a beautiful thing. Masacrpone is at least an average of $7 a tub here so I am ready to move.

Cristie said...

What a beautiful tart! As always your pictures are amazing. This one goes in the file. It really sounds delicious.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Awesome! Sometimes, I wonder what to do with all the Swiss chard (there's a bunch in my fridge right now) but it's a wonderful filling, and this savory crostata is impressive.

Cathy said...

A savory crostata - I love it, Debby. And your photos are wonderful. Bookmarked!

Emily Z said...

Mmmm, I bet this does smell good. I used to work next door to a Mr. Goodcents, and every morning when they were making their bread, the smell would infiltrate the little dental office where I worked. I notoriously got hungry every morning about 10 or 10:30! I've never actually cooked with leeks before. But this makes me want to try!

Pam said...

Beautiful! I am lazy and use store bought crust. I love the idea of a savory crostata. Nicely done.

Noelle Marie said...

while the food looks fabulous... where did you get that fork!? love it.

Simple Simon said...

This looks delectable. I can't wait to try it and I can just imagine the different varieties of veggies one could use, with the recotta and mascarpone as a base. Thanks for your great blog!

Sam said...

I love this recipe! The parmesan and mascarpone crust sounds interesting and really tasty. The filling looks fabulous too!

City Share said...

Yum! Cheesy crust and a ricotta veggie filling - Wow. That sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe. It would be great at any meal.

Cheryl said...

Wow, that looks and sounds amazing. I had never thought of a savory Crostata! YUM

bella (roz) said...

I grew up with a ravioli filling made with garden fresh swiss chard and not spinach . . . what a great vegetable it is. I simply love marscapone does to recipes too! thanks!

Stacey Snacks said...

Bonjour from Paris Deb!
This chard tart rivals the best of them that I have seen here in France!
I love Swiss chard w/ ricotta!
I am bookmarking this recipe!
xxoo

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Wow, I am totally sold on this. I love the rustic simplicity and the flavors of the crust and the filling. I can't wait to try this one.

Monica H said...

I can see why this is one of your favorites recipes- that crust sounds awesome too.

And I want that salad. ASAP.

Michael said...

I love the internet for learning new recipes, and this one looks delicious, but I keep running into one problem:

Why do recipes on the internet so often forget to say how many servings a recipe makes? That has always been in the first paragraph of any recipe published outside of the internet. On the internet, who cares?