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Rustic Tart of Wild Greens, Ricotta and Pancetta

Rustic Tart of Wild Greens, Ricotta and Pancetta

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Creamy ricotta, savory pancetta, and a bed of cooked wild greens will make your guests feel like they’re brunching at a five star restaurant, and they won’t leave feeling sluggish or overstuffed.


Recipe courtesy of Chef Jason Bartner, La Tavola Marche.


For the Pastry Dough

  • 2 3/4 Cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 Cups butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 -3 tablespoons ice water
  • pinch of salt

For the Filling

  • 2 Cups of cooked, drained, and squeezed dry greens (mix of wild greens or chard, spinach, escarole, etc.)
  • 1 cup sheeps milk ricotta cheese
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Generous handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2-3 slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, separated


Calories Per Serving537

Folate equivalent (total)192µg48%

Riboflavin (B2)0.5mg27.9%

Recipe Summary

  • 10 ounces multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 thin slices of pancetta
  • 32 sage leaves
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
  • 8 slices of country bread, cut 1/4-inch thick and toasted
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil season with kosher salt and pepper. Transfer the tomatoes to one side of a parchment-lined baking sheet and lay the pancetta slices out on the other side. Bake for 25 minutes, until the pancetta is crisp. Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain, then crumble.

Roast the tomatoes for about 10 more minutes, until bursting and lightly caramelized. Transfer the tomatoes and any rendered fat from the pancetta to a bowl.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the sage and fry until bright green and crisp, 30 to 45 seconds. Drain the sage on paper towels reserve the oil for another use.

Spread the ricotta on the toasts and top with the tomatoes and crumbled pancetta. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and top the toasts with the sage leaves. Serve immediately.

Rustic Potato and Greens Pie

When I was working in Gourmet’s test kitchen in the mid-eighties and we styled a dish to be photographed that didn’t look perfect, we’d turn a negative into a positive by calling the dish “rustic” and bragging that it was “made by human hands.” That’s exactly the kind of thinking that went into this pie. Pastry impaired as I am, I can’t help but love a pie that’s as free-form and forgiving as this one. You start by making my very simple food-processor pie dough. Roll it out into a rough circle between sheets of plastic wrap and drop it into a pie plate. Spoon the filling into the middle of the pie, then fold in the edges, free-form style. Bake it up and you’re done. Family and friends will be amazed: “What, you made a savory pie on a weeknight?” Yes, you did. This baby’s real versatile, too. The eggs and potatoes, along with the cheese, are the binders, but you could substitute any number of other vegetables for the greens, including blanched broccoli and sauteed zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, leeks, and so on. Likewise, you can use the lower-fat versions of the cheeses or other cheeses altogether.

Cooking Method baking, sauteeing

Occasion Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Course appetizer, main course

Dietary Consideration halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Taste and Texture buttery, cheesy, garlicky, rich, savory

Type of Dish savory/pot pie


    or store-bought pastry for a single crust pie
  • ¾ pound small boiling potatoes, such as Yukon gold or Red Bliss
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 pounds cooking greens, such as chard, spinach, collards , mustard, or a mixture
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 ounces Gruyere cheese
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs


Prepare the Basic Butter Pastry. Chill half while you make the filling. (Freeze the remaining half for another use.) Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Scrub the potatoes and cut them into 1½-inch pieces (about 2 cups) place them in a medium saucepan. Add cold salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat reduce the heat to low and simmer the potacoes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onion (about 1 cup). Thoroughly rinse and spin dry the greens, remove the tough stems, and coarsely chop the leaves (about 24 cups). (If using chard, the stems will be tender reserve them to stir-fry for another meal.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-low add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until it has softened. Press in the garlic (about 2 teaspoons) and cook for 1 minute. Add half the greens and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they have wilted. Remove the greens with tongs to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining half of the greens. Return the first batch of greens to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes more, or until any liquid that collected in the skillet has evaporated.

When the potatoes are done, drain and mash them with a potato masher. Combine the potatoes and the greens mixture in a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, roll out the pastry between lightly floured sheets of wax paper to make a 12-inch round pat the edges of the pastry to make the round even. Fit the pastry into a 9-inch pie plate press against the sides of the plate, allowing the excess to hang over the edges. Put the pie plate in the fridge while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Grate the Gruyere (about ½ cup) and Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2/3 cup Microplane-grated or about 1/3 cup grated on the fine side of a box grater) fold the cheeses into the potato mixture along with the ricotta, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly beat the eggs reserve 1 tablespoon. Stir the rest of the eggs into the potato mixture and spoon the filling into the pastry-lined pie plate. Gently lift the overhanging pastry over the filling, pleating as necessary to make it fit. (It will make a 1- to ½-inch border covering the edges of the filling, which will be uncovered in the center.) Brush the pastry with the reserved 1 tablespoon egg.

Bake the pie for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is heated through and the pastry is golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

  • ¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup soft goat cheese, (2 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups mixed wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and thoroughly washed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 10 sheets (14x18-inch) or 20 sheets (9x14-inch) thawed phyllo dough, (see Timing Tip)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain dry breadcrumbs

Combine ricotta, goat cheese, rosemary and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, leek and salt and cook, stirring, until the leek starts to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, about 3 minutes. Pour in wine and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet (approximately 12 by 17 inches) with parchment paper. Lay one large sheet of phyllo on the prepared pan. (If using the smaller

size, slightly overlap two sheets to form a rectangle.) Keep the remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap or wax paper and a damp kitchen towel.

Lightly coat the phyllo with oil using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs. Repeat this step, layering the remaining phyllo on top. Carefully roll about 3/4 inch of each side toward the center to form the outer rim of the tart.

Spread the reserved cheese mixture evenly over the phyllo. Top with the reserved mushroom mixture.

Bake the tart until the crust is brown and crispy, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. To serve, lift the parchment paper and slide the tart onto a cutting board or large platter. Serve warm.

Timing Tip: Thaw frozen phyllo (in its package) at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight before preparing the recipe.

Regions of Italy and their recipes

The richness of Italian cuisine lies in its diversity. Regional foods and cooking styles vary widely across Italy. Local cooking preferences and customs are shaped by geographic, historical, and climactic differences: some regions are landlocked and mountainous, others hug the sea and are hilly some regions have absorbed Arab or Greek influences, others have been marked by the French or Austrians some regions live under the dazzling Mediterranean sun most of the year, others have cold winters, snow, fog, and harsh winds. This section explores each of the regions and their culinary traditions.

Rustic Tart of Wild Greens, Ricotta and Pancetta - Recipes

For the crust:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

18 tablespoons unsalted butter, well chilled or frozen

6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, well chilled or frozen

1 tablespoon lemon juice or unflavored vinegar

5 to 7 tablespoons ice water, just as needed

For the filling:

2 bunches rapini (“broccoli rape”)

2 lbs. part skim ricotta cheese, drained

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 pound pancetta, cut into small pieces

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fine dried bread crumbs

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the egg glaze:

1 egg yolk, beaten well with pinch of salt

Directions for the pie pastry

1. Combine the flour and salt and pulse a few times in a food processor to blend.

2. Add the cold butter and vegetable shortening and pulse only until the fat is cut into bits the size of peas.

3. Through the processor’s feed tube, add the egg and lemon juice or vinegar, pulse once or twice, then add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice between additions, only until dough begins to show some clumps. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the inside walls of the vessel. Do not form a dough ball on the blade.

4. Turn dough out onto a piece of wax paper (if it looks sandy and dry, sprinkle on a tiny bit more water) and use your hands to bring it together into a ball. It should hold the form of your fingers when squeezed. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 5 days until you are ready to make the filling.

Note: If butter and vegetable shortening were frozen, dough can be rolled without prior chilling.

Directions for the filling

1. Wash the rapini in cold water, drain.

2. Detach and separate the stems from the tops of the vegetable. Set the tops and the leaves aside. Using a small, sharp knife, peel any especially tough skin from the thicker lower stalks, much like you would peel the tough skin from the bottom of asparagus stalks.

3. Fill a large pot with plenty of water to cover all the greens and bring to a rolling boil. Add the kosher salt and the peeled stems, cover partially, and boil over high heat for 7 minutes. Now add the florets and leaves and cook them together with the stems for 3 minutes more. Drain the greens and allow them to cool. With your hands, squeeze out as much water as you can. Chop them finely and set aside.

4. Warm a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and render most of the fat from pancetta. Remove the pancetta and add the onion to the pan. Adjust the heat to medium-low and sauté until the onion is transparent, another 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to sauté gently for about another 3 minutes until it softens and the onions are lightly colored, but do not brown the mixture. Stir in the rapini, along with the pancetta. Set aside to cool.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly and mix in the bread crumbs, ricotta, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the cooled rapini mixture, blending well.

6. Select a springform pan. Butter it lightly. Divide the chilled dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. To use, roll out the larger ball of dough on a lightly floured, wide sheet of parchment or waxed paper using a floured rolling pin. Form an 11-inch round. Drape it around the pin and transfer it to the pan. Press it gently onto the bottom and sides.

8. Roll out the second ball of dough in the same manner into a slightly smaller circle. Lay it over the filling. Crimp the edges together to seal and trim off any excess to form an even edge. Cut several slashes in the top to allow steam to escape and decorate with extra pieces of dough, pressing them gently onto the crust.

9. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 1 hour, 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm, cut into wedges.

Note: This pie keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in an oven preheated to 350 F until warm throughout, 20 to 30 minutes.

What you’ll need to make a french apple tart

Before we get to the recipe, a word of advice: you might be tempted to load up the tart with extra apples but, trust me, less is more with this type of dessert. The apples release quite a bit of juice, which can leak from the tart and make a mess of the crust and your oven.

Also, be sure to use apples suitable for baking — think Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagolds, Jonathans, Golden Delicious, Gala, Honey Crisp, etc. — otherwise, they’ll turn into applesauce.

Ricotta, Spinach, & Artichoke Tart

I really do love savory tarts as they can be enjoyed anytime throughout the day. You can savor a slice for breakfast along with a piece of fruit, have a wedge for lunch with a nice salad, or cut the tart into squares and serve it as an appetizer for dinner. Although tarts like this one may look a little labor intensive, by taking a few shortcuts you can throw together an elegant looking, delicious tart in mere minutes. I used frozen puff pastry for my tart, and filled it with eggs, ricotta cheese, artichokes and spinach. By buying frozen artichoke hearts, you eliminate the messy cleaning, and I was thrilled to find a big bag of frozen artichoke hearts at Trader Joe’s a week or so ago and have used them in a few different dishes, including this tart.

I kept my tart meat free, but you could certainly include pancetta or sausage as well, which would create a heartier tart that would be perfect for brunch. I used a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, but any 10 inch tart pan would work just fine.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2013

Rustic Tart of Wild Greens, Ricotta and Pancetta - Recipes

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Green, white and red: springtime in Italy

Luciana Squadrilli introduces us to some of the dishes, ingredients and culinary customs enjoyed throughout Italy to commemorate the arrival of spring.

Luciana Squadrilli is a freelance journalist and author specialising in food and travel writing.

Luciana Squadrilli is a freelance journalist and author specialising in food and travel writing.

Spring has finally arrived in Italy – bringing with it sunny, longer days – and its delicious produce is finding its way onto our tables and into the kitchen. The fresh and delicate flavours result in some fantastic recipes, and green is definitely the colour of the season, along with white and red – just like the Italian flag. A walk to the market instantly reveals spring's key players – artichokes (at least some varieties), peas, broad beans and asparagus are shown off on the stalls, often arranged in choreographic ways. Spring onions – both the white and purple kind – add their flavours to seasonal recipes, while a range of wild herbs and greens such as borage, cress, wild chicory, edible burdock and other oddly named local varieties turn salads and contorni (what we usually call side dishes in Italy) into wonderful, flavourful things. Each of these ingredients can be cooked and eaten on their own, or they can combine together in all sorts of traditional regional dishes.

In Lazio, vignarola is a traditional spring vegetable soup made with spring onions, artichokes, broad beans and peas, with some thinly sliced pancetta or guanciale to contrast with the sweetness of the vegetables. The soup – whose name supposedly comes from the fact that these vegetables once grew in between the grape vines – is usually served warm with bread. Nowadays many cooks also create a ‘dry’ version of it to prepare a tasty pasta dish, often enriched with grated Pecorino.

In Tuscany, garmugia is a similar recipe typical of the city of Lucca, yet richer. Once recommended to pregnant women and new mothers, it also includes asparagus and minced veal. Its name is said to come from the word germoglio (sprout), referring to the delicate, fresh vegetables used to prepare it, grown in the city's orchards.

In Abruzzo, the city of Teramo has a slightly unusual traditional dish – the Virtù (virtues). Usually eaten on 1 May, it is a soup made of fresh and dry legumes, seasonal vegetables, wild herbs, different kinds of pasta and pretty much every cut of pork, including ears and trotters. This dish is usually cooked in huge quantities and shared with relatives, friends and neighbours, to commemorate the habit of cooking a rich meal for the whole local community using everything left over from the winter larder and the new spring produce.

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