SUNDAY SUPPERS AT LUCQUES SWISS CHARD TART
Alongside freeze dried ice cream developed for the Apollo space stations, astronauts will soon be munching on fresh harvests of Swiss chard. Chosen as one of the first fresh crops to be grown from seed on planetary space stations, the wide dark green fan like leaves and rainbow colored stalks are an important part of Nasa's orbital farming project. Matt Damon showed us just how botanists might grow vegetables on the red planet in the science fiction 2015 blockbuster, The Martian. Science and the lack of proper fertilizer aside, Swiss chard is a gorgeous looking, delicious, powerhouse green deserving of a regular spot on home menus. Leave it to restaurateur and cookbook author, Suzanne Goin, to come up with hands down the best recipe to showcase this green beloved to Mediterranean cooking. The slightly sweet, toasty relish and melted tangy cheese make this a truly out of this world experience. If you love this recipe, Suzanne's cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques is a wonderful addition to the home cook's library.
Nota bene: If Bûcheron cheese is unavailable, any soft goat cheese that easily crumbles may be substituted. The tart may be assembled in the morning, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated--bake just before serving. The pine nut relish may be made in the morning. It is wise to bake on the bottom rack as close to the bottom of the oven as possible. This insures the crust bakes up firm and flaky. Dufour's is a particularly wonderful brand of frozen puff pastry.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Defrost the puff pastry slightly and unroll it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a paring knife to score a 1/4 inch border around the edge of the pastry.
2. Make an egg wash by whisking one egg yolk with 1/2 teaspoon water, and brush the egg wash along the border.
3. Chill the puff pastry in the freezer until ready to use.
4. Tear the chard into large pieces. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the shallots, and the thyme. Sauté for a few minutes, and add half the Swiss chard. Cook a minute or two, tossing the greens in the oil to help them wilt. Add the second half of the greens, and season with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender.
5. Spread the greens on a baking sheet or platter to cool (you may want to put them in the refrigerator, so they cool more quickly). When the chard is cool, squeeze the excess water out with your hands.
6. Place the ricotta, remaining egg yolk, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until smooth, and remove to a mixing bowl.
7. Gently fold in the crème fraîche and season with a healthy pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
8. Spread the ricotta mixture on the puff pastry inside the scored border. Crumble half the goat cheese over the ricotta, arrange the greens on top, and sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over the tart. If you aren't ready to bake, cover the tart with plastic and chill.
9. Bake the tart for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Check underneath the tart to make sure the crust is really cooked through (if you under bake the tart, it will be soggy).
10. Cool a few minutes, and then transfer the tart to a cutting board. Spoon some of the currant-pine nut relish over the tart and serve it on the cutting board at the table. Pass the remaining currant-pine nut relish in a small bowl for anyone who would like a little more.
CURRANT-PINE NUT RELISH
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the pine nuts on a quarter sheet baking pan and toast the pine nuts in the oven for about 8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they're golden brown and smell nutty.
3. Heat a small sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium, and add the olive oil, rosemary, and chile. When the rosemary and chile start to sizzle, add the onion and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat down to low, and let the onions stew gently for about 10 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a small bowl to cool and discard the rosemary sprig and chile.
4. While the onion is cooking, place the currants in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let the currants soak for 10 minutes, and then drain well.
5. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan the onions were in, and reduce it over medium-high heat to a scant 1 tablespoon. Stir the reduced vinegar into the onion mixture.
6. Add the toasted pine nuts, currants, and parsley to the onion mixture, and stir to combine. Taste for balance and seasoning.
SERVES 6 TO 8
FOR THE TART
1 frozen sheet of all butter puff pastry (8" x 12")
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, cleaned, ribs removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced shallots
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta, drained if wet
1/4 cup crème fraîche
6 ounces semi-aged goat cheese (such as Bûcheron)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
FOR THE PINE NUT RELISH
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1 or 2 sprigs of rosemary
1 Chile de arbol (optional)
3/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/3 cup dried currants
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper