Recipe by Carol Field, from Italy in Small Bites. If you are short on time or intimidated by making your own pie crust for this recipe, we understand! Please see our variations in the notes at the bottom.
All morning long, people line up at the metal counter in the tiny Osteria Bacciottini in Pontremoli for a glass of wine or grappa and something to eat. Most of them come to work from the forested Lunigiana mountains that are squeezed in between the Apennines and the Apuan Alps, and they need reinforcement by the middle of the morning. The glass case is full of various vegetables sott’olio along with sweet pecorino cheese and salami, but as good as they are, they cannot challenge the sublime vegetable tarts on display.
This pastry dough is extremely light and flaky and simple to make. Be sure to cut the chard, potatoes, and onions very, very fine. There’s no Cuisinart in the kitchen in this tiny trattoria — there isn’t even a dishwasher, and the mixing bowls are small and unmatched — but the grandmotherly cook sends out superb traditional plates.
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus 1 heaping tablespoon
- Sea Salt - 1/2 TB
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Cold Water - 10-11 TB cold water
- Swiss chard - 2 lb, washed well, dried, white ribs removed
- Potato - 1 large
- Yellow or White Onion - 1/2
- Parmigiano-Reggiano or Vella Dry - 1/4 cup, grated
- Ricotta cheese - 6 1/2 TB, sieved
- Eggs - 2, lightly beaten
- Salt & Pepper -
- Nutmeg - Substantial gratings
- EVOO - scant 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (or more)
- To make the dough by hand, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil. Blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 8 TB of the water, and mix with a fork until the dough comes together. If it is dry, add more water. If you are using a heavy-duty electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, oil, and water in the bowl and mix with the paddle attachment until they come together as a dough.Knead the dough briefly by hand on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, make the filling: Put about 1 quarts of water in a pot large enough to hold the chard later and bring it to a boil. Add the chard and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Pour the water and chard into a colander and drain well, squeezing the moisture out of the chard. Set aside to cool.
- At the same time, add a quart of water to another small pot, and add the potatoes and onions. Add salt to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
- Set the vegetables in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Transfer them to a large bowl, and mix in the Parmesan, ricotta, eggs, salt, nutmeg, and olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll the larger piece out to form an approximately 15-inch round. Lift the dough on a rolling pin, and lay it inside an oiled 8 1/2-or 9-inch spring-form pan so that it completely covers the bottom and the sides. Fill with the vegetable mixture. Roll the second piece of dough out to form a 9 or 9 1/2 inch circle, and lay it over the filling. Trim the edges, and crimp them together well to seal the tart. Pierce the crust with a fork in a few places to allow the steam to escape.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is a pale golden brown. Allow to rest for 20 minutes at least, and then unmold, and serve warm or at room temperature.
- 1) Use a pre-made pie crust, and bake the tart without a top crust!
- 2) Don't worry about the crust and make the filling as instructed in the recipe. Pour it into a well-oiled 9" (or so) spring form pan. Bake as instructed, for a delicious vegetable fritatta.