Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ricotta Tart with Baby Spinach & Garden Herbs


For the first day of August, just a quick post with an easy summer recipe for a colorful and delicous Ricotta Tart with Baby Spinach & Herbs. For this easy summertime recipe, you can either chose to make your own Shortcrust Pastry (for ease of reference I included a recipe in his post) or use a good quality store-bought one. You can either use homemade Ricotta (which is what I like to use) or use a quality Italian brand instead. It is summertime after all and the weather is hot. Spending a long time in the kitchen these days, is not always desirable. The tart will taste wonderful whichever option you chose.






Ricotta Tart with Baby Spinach & Garden Herbs

Ingredients for the Shortcrust Pastry
  • 250g plain (AP) flour
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 150g cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk (M), free range or organic
  • 2 tbsps cider vinegar

Ingredients for the Filling
  • 2 tbsps or more olive oil
  • 200g (7 ounces) red spring onions, washed, dried and sliced thinly - you can also use regular red onions, scallions, leeks, or ramps (in springtime) in their place
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely minced (you can forgo the garlic if you prefer)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (you can also add a few Italian Peperoncini flakes here)
  • 4 eggs (M), free range or organic
  • a small bunch baby spinach, washed and dried (you can leave the small stems attached)
  • chives and Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, washed, dried and chopped OR use other seasonal, soft garden herbs
  • 500g (17.5 ounces) fresh ricotta (either homemade or store-bought)

Preparation of the Crust
  1. For the pastry, put the flour, salt, butter, egg yolk and vinegar into a food processor. Using the pulse button, process until the mix binds. Alternatively mix by hand or with a pastry cutter.
  2. Gather all the ingredients into a smooth ball. Wrap with food wrap. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  3. Uwrap the cold pastry and place onto a lightly floured work surface, then roll out as evenly as you can. 
  4. Line the base of a 23cm x 2.5cm (9in x 1in) loose-bottomed, fluted tart/quiche pan with baking parchment. Alternatively, you can use a springform pan here.
  5. Ease the rolled out pastry into the prepared tart pan, press the pastry into the flutes, trim the pastry edges, making sure to save the trimmings. The pastry should be slightly above the rim of the tart pan. Lightly prick the base with a fork, then chill again, this time for about 15 minutes or until the pastry case is cold and firm again.
  6. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200° C ( 395°F).
  7. Line the pastry case with crumpled-up baking parchment, fill with dry beans and bake on the hot sheet for 15 minutes - I like to place another sheet of baking parchment under the tart pan.
  8. Remove the parchment and beans and bake for about 5 minutes more until the pastry is pale golden. If you notice any small holes or cracks, now is the time to patch up with pastry trimmings. NOTE: You can prepare the pastry case up to this point a day ahead.
  9. Place the pre-baked pastry shell on a cooling rack while preparing the filling.

Preparation of the Filling
  1. In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the sliced onions and garlic (if using), season with a bit of salt and pepper, cook until tender and cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the fresh baby spinach leaves, stir and let cool to room temperature. NOTE: the spinach leaves will wilt with the residual heat from the onion mixture.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200° C (400°F).
  3. Separate 2 of the eggs, keep the egg yolks separate, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until soft peaks form. Set aside for a moment.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta until reasonably smooth, then mix in the 2 egg yolks that you kept separate and the 2 whole eggs, add a bit more salt and pepper (and peperoncini if using) along with the onion/garlic/baby spinach mixture.
  5. Fold the chopped, fresh herbs into the ricotta mixture.
  6. Scrape the filling into the pre-baked tart shell and bake until just set and slightly-browned on top, 25 to 30 minutes or until it just feels set in the center.
  7. Let the tart cool briefly, then serve either warm or at room temperature. 
  8. Scatter fresh basil leaves and edible flowers (if using) over the top of the tart before serving - it is nice to serve a fresh tomato salad alongside.




Enjoy this delectable Tart either warm, fresh out of the oven or serve at room temperature. It also keeps well for a day or two - if you have any leftovers, maybe bring a slice to a summertime alfresco lunch or dinner....




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