I keep lavender by the door for luck. Believe if you put basil under your pillow, you will see your true love and build Midsummer bonfires for the faeries. Gardens are magical to me. The transformation of a seed into a fruit, vegetable, flower or herb is part science and part enchantment. You will never convince me otherwise.
It is inconceivable to me that my French thyme would have returned after the brutal, long winter winter of 2010-2011. But it did. And I felt I had to do it justice.
I am attracted to tarts. If there is more meaning to that fact, I won't explore it. And while I never would pass on a sweet fruit tart or an almond cream tart - when given a choice to bake - I go for the savory. The summer sun still graces us with its strong sunbeams but all is more filtered now. The light seems more delicate. And that is thyme. Faery-twigs of tiny delicate leaves that impart a soft, fragrant flavor. A kiss from the earth.
The Swiss Chard and Herb Tart hails from Tuscany - a place that I remember of soft light - hidden behind hills and filtered through trees. The recipe is from Bon Appetit's May 2000 issue that was devoted to Tuscany. I almost have that issue memorized. And if you know me - I don't toil in the kitchen. This is easy - using frozen puff pastry for the crust.
Swiss Chard and Herb Tart Ingredients
1 pound Swiss Chard - stems and ribs removed (I used two bunches and only removed the thickest stems)
1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove minced (I probably used more)
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese (whole milk)
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (I used an entire teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano (I again used an entire teaspoon - I have an oregano bush)
1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg (I used more)
1-17.03 ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed (two sheets)
Swiss Chard and Herb Tart Preparation
Need: 9 inch pastry tart pan with removable bottom. Although I used a pie plate because I didn't notice that part!
Bon Appetit has you boil the chard until just wilted, dry it and then saute it. I just sauteed it!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chopped garlic. Saute 1 minute.
Add chard until just wilted. - about two minutes.
Transfer chard to large bowl. Let cool. Mix in ricotta and next 7 ingredients.
Roll out 1 pastry sheet on slightly floured surface to about a 14-inch square.
Transfer pastry to tart pan. Trim edges leaving a 1-inch overhang.
Fill pastry with chard mixture.
Lightly brush pastry overhang with brush dipped in water.
Roll out 2nd pastry sheet to a 13-inch square. Using tart pan as a guide, trim pastry square into a 10-inch round. Drape over filling. Seal edges.
Bake about 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
Cool ten minutes and serve.
Soft, savory, flaky. Italian rustic. A touch of the wild and the bitter wrapped in sweet pillows of cheese. As you serve this, you feel touched by Tuscany.