Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mixed Leafy Greens & Ricotta Pie: A Technique/Recipe Using the Bounty of the Season.

This is another one of those "recipes" that I think is really more "technique". You can adapt this with many ingredients. It's basically about using leafy greens, good cheese or cheeses, eggs, some aromatics, some seasonings and a pie crust and having fun.  This is the kind of dish that you can eat hot with a salad for dinner, have at room temperature on a buffet, or just grab a slice to take for a very delicious brown bag lunch.  It's also totally wonderful as a midnight snack. 

Here's what I did with this first go around. On the right hand side of the first picture you'll see my main ingredients. I needed to harvest a good deal of leafy greens from our garden.  In the bowl is Lacinto (black kale), mustard greens, kale,  and Swiss chard.  I also had a big bunch of Par-Cel (leaf celery) from my garden.  

From the Farmers Markets I had: Some Trumpet Mushrooms, Purple Spring Onions and Garlic Scapes. I had a container of gorgeous ricotta from Caputo Brothers Creamery. I also had some eggs and a hunk of Reggiano Parmigiano.  I had a small piece of Guanciale which I diced and fried up. You  could use bacon, salami or no meat at all. I had a spice called Berbere - an Ethiopian chili and spice blend (which is actually pretty widely available) - and I decided to go with that for my mixture. And, best of all, I had pastry doughs in the freezer.

The important things to remember:

Wash your greens thoroughly.  Blanche your greens in some boiling water for just a minute or so - longer for the "stronger" greens like black kale.  Take them out of the boil and put them into a bowl of ice. Hold them there. 

Chop your aromatics - in my case, the Scapes, the Spring Onions and the Par-Cel.  I also chopped the mushrooms.

Then take your leafy greens out of the ice and chop them - chop them all together and chop them very well.  I like to be able to use stems - there is flavor and nutrients there - but you have to do a good chop!  Mix your greens and your aromatics together. Stir well. Add a bit of salt and pepper. This is when I also added my Berbere spice. Stir well. 

I beat together one cup of milk and four eggs. To that I added the ricotta (in my case 1 1/2 cups). I whisked the egg mixture and ricotta well. I poured the egg and cheese mixture into the greens and aromatics and stirred it very well.  I added the diced Guanciale and again stirred very well.

I moisturized a Springform Pan with a bit of Ghee. I added the defrosted pastry dough to the pan.  I then spooned the whole mixture into the dough in the pan (see picture).  I sprinkled the top of the mixture with grated parmesan. Then I folded the dough up in a seemingly attractive manner. I brushed the top of the dough with some of the whey from the ricotta. An egg wash would work as well.

Bake at 350 degrees for between 50 minutes and an hour. Let it rest for a bit before removing the sides of the springform pan.  Note:  I pulled it out and grated more Parmesan over the whole pie for the last 15 minutes. It makes a nice crusty top. 

So - try it with what you like! You need the veg. You need some spices to build flavor - or just go with good salt and fresh ground pepper. You need a binder ( the cheese and eggs and milk). And, you need a pastry shell of some kind. 

Play with your ingredients! And don't forget to share!