Jeremy doesn’t often offer input in our menu planning; he is largely just content eating whatever recipes strike my fancy. So when he suggests something specific for dinner or dessert, I try my darndest to scrounge up the ingredients and put it together. Last night we were getting low on proteins and for some reason my brain could not get past “lentils,” so I gratefully accepted Jeremy’s request for a Swiss chard-ricotta crostata like the one we saw in passing at lunchtime on “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.”
In assessing what I had on hand, I turned out to be short a few ingredients, namely Swiss chard and ricotta. A bit of a hiccup when trying to make a Swiss chard-ricotta crostata, I will admit, but I made the ricotta myself from whole milk and substituted a pile of very similar beet greens for chard. The rest was easy: my usual pie crust with a bit of Parmesan added in, and a filling of cheeses, sauteed greens and leeks, and a couple of eggs to bind it all together. The savory scent wafting from the oven as it baked made our stomachs growl.
I’ve made savory pastries with greens before: a turnip-green tart with a quinoa-rosemary crust, a Swiss chard pasticcio with a bread crumb topping, a crustless spinach and sausage quiche. The finished products were all somewhat of a disappointment, but I am very happy to report that this was not remotely the case with the crostata. It was delicious, with a flaky crust wrapped around the creamy, green-flecked filling. It even stood up well to reheating for the next day’s lunch without turning mushy, and I sincerely hope it won’t be too long before I make this recipe again.
Ricotta and Beet Greens Crostata
1 recipe pie dough, such as this recipe (I added a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan to this)
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch beet greens or Swiss chard, stems removed and cut into 1/4-inch lengths, leaves cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
2 leeks, dark green tops removed, cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
2 to 3 T water
2 C fresh ricotta
1 C grated Parmesan
Pinch cayenne pepper
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Prepare the pie dough, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and bring the pan to a medium heat. When the garlic has become golden brown and is very aromatic, remove it and discard. Add the stems, leeks and several tablespoons of water; season with salt. When the water has evaporated and the veggies are soft, add the greens; season with salt and saute until they are very soft and wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, cayenne and the veggie mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm up for about 10 to 15 minutes, which will make it easier to roll out. Dust a large clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. (I turned out the dough onto my silpat, and rolled it between that and the plastic wrap that had covered it; once the crostata was filled, I just moved the silpat to the baking sheet.) Transfer the dough to a large sheet tray lined with parchment paper; plop the filling in a large circle in the center of the dough round, leaving a 3 to 4-inch border of dough along the outside edge. Fold the dough up around the filling to make a free-form pie. Brush the top of the crust with egg wash, and bake until the crust is firm, golden brown and shiny, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes for easier slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network.