Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring Greens: Chard Tart with Grana Padano and Goat Cheese

It’s spring! I’ve been preparing for the opening of our farmers markets — this weekend — by creating recipes using the first seasonal ingredients I will be able to find locally. These include lettuces and hearty greens like chard and kale.

The newest recipe for spring greens was a happy accident. I was scrounging in the “Good Cheese for $2.00” bin at my Whole Foods and found a nice wedge of Grana Padano. This is a bit like sharp Parmesan and is a hard, aged cheese with that same lovely caramelized texture as good Italian Parmesan — with a price to match. So, the two-buck-bin is a real find for me.

The chard came from a trip to our local farmers expo to find out about new farms and CSAs available to us. While the filling recipe is original and my own, the crust is a recipe from Todd English’s The Olives Table.

I have nearly 200 cookbooks around this place (it's a disease). If I had to narrow the library down to the top 20, Mr. English’s book would be one of them. The recipes are heavenly good and the book jacket photo is not bad either. Let’s just say the stove is not the only thing that’s hot in that kitchen.

Swiss Chard Tart with Grana Padano and Goat Cheese
For the crust, you will want to make this first because it has to chill:
1 and 1/8 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup ice water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes, cold

Place all the dry ingredients into the work bowl of your food processor. Drop in the cubes of butter, pulsing a bit each time to combine. Easy on the pulsing, though. Too much and you make the crust tough. Something to do with the glutens in the flour. Add the cold water and pulse until it just comes together. Remove from bowl and form into a ball. Store in fridge for 20 minutes. This chills the butter again, and helps the crust to bake up flaky. You can do your prep work for the tart filling while you are waiting for the crust to chill.

Here’s my bit: when you prepare to roll out the crust, put down some plastic wrap, then place sheets of wrap over the dough as well. Roll the dough out between the plastic to about 10 inches diameter. It will not stick to the rolling pin and is easy to reposition if needed. Place the crust into a 9-inch tart pan. Be sure to prick the crust with a fork a few times. Place back in fridge to chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

For the filling:
Two bunches Swiss Chard, about 14 big leaves, stems removed, chopped, washed and dried in a salad spinner
1 large shallot, minced
2 tbs. Olive oil
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 tbs. Half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
2 oz Grana Padano, grated
1 oz Fresh goat cheese

Do all the prep work first, because the filling cooks fast and is easy to overcook. Heat oil in skillet. Sauté the shallot until golden. Add the chard and sauté until just starting to wilt. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and the half and half. Combine quickly and heat through — just one minute or so. Any longer and the chard will give up more water and you’ll have to drain the excess and have less flavor and texture from the chard.

Remove from heat. Mix in the Grana Padano. Place the filling in the crust. Top with dots of the goat cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the goat cheese just begins to turn golden and the crust is also golden. You can serve warm, or at room temperature.

I used to do a version of this with puff pastry, chard and a whole lot of ricotta, Parmesan and egg. My husband complained there was not enough green. So, he gets credit for sending me back to the kitchen for revisions. I like this version much better, especially with fresh chard on hand. The picture is not as good as I hoped. It tastes much better than it looks.


Alison said...

Holy yum, batman! That looks fantastic. FANTASTIC.

Oh, man. If I ever come to KC, I'm going to find you and we're gonna' have SUCH a foodfest!

In the meantime, I might make that in my own kitchen, though knowing me I'll buy a premade crust at the co-op.

The Expatriate Chef said...

I hope you do come visit. It would be fantastic! I should have some others posted soon, I got behind on the fun stuff and am ready to get back in the kitchen! Have enjoyed your posts lately back at CleanerPlate!

Susannah said...

I tried this and it's really great! Thanks, Expatriate Chef.