Monday, January 11, 2010

The quiche that wasn't

Ok, so I’ve been fairly slack lately with the whole blogging thing. What, with all the Christmasing, camping, beaching, beering and sleeping, there’s been little time for computers. Luckily though, that doesn’t mean that I’ve been slack on the cooking, in fact, I’ve got quite a backlog of photos and recipes to share with you guys, which is also lucky, because the last couple of days have brought the sort of weather that makes you want to run screaming from the kitchen and eat cold watermelon for breakfast, lunch and dinner – which although delicious, does not make for particularly interesting blog material!

One of these backlogged recipes is a savoury ricotta tart. I feel a bit silly calling it a “savoury ricotta tart” – considering it’s made up of eggs, cheese, herbs and a bit of asparagus in pastry, it’s probably more suiting to call it quiche, but the thing is, I hate quiche, and I love this! Well, I don’t flat out hate quiche – as a kid I used to eat it fairly frequently as part of Sunday lunch at my grandparent’s farm and I used to really enjoy picking off the pastry crust and eating it with tomato sauce – it was just the gluggy, eggy middle bit that turned me off. Luckily quiche was always served with at least three different salads at my grandparents’ – a green, a coleslaw and a brown rice salad, I was hardly deprived, starving child, forced to pick at quiche crusts for lunch.

Anyway, I digress – the point is that this tart is really delicious! It’s a bit rustic, light, fresh and even works beautifully when you slip into holiday laziness and use (gulp) bought pastry. I think the thing that really distinguishes it is that the majority of the filling is beaten ricotta, rather than eggs, the eggs are really just used to hold the whole mess together, this makes for a much lighter filling, both in flavour and texture.

This is the perfect sort of food for summer, it’s quick to make, doesn’t require the oven to be on for too long and tastes even better eaten cold the next day, so if you’re sweltering in summer heat, get to it!

Savoury Ricotta Tart

Also, I should say, feel free to be imaginative with the herbs and veggies that you put in this. The first time I made it was with spring onion and fresh thyme and a sprinkle of dried oregano, which was very good, but simpler than the recipe given here. I think I’ll be making this again a far bit and will be experimenting with throwing in some spinach and dill, and maybe some peas and fresh mint in the future – really, the possibilities are endless.

1 sheet/1 quantity shortcrust pastry*
200gm ricotta cheese (preferably not from the tub)
150gm soft goats cheese**
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 bunch spring onions – finely chopped
¼ cup flat leaf parsley – finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus - trimmed
1tsp dried thyme or a couple of springs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped, stems discarded
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180c

Line a 24cm tart tin (or springform cake tin) with the pastry and blind bake (quick refresher – blind baking is when you pop the raw pastry in the tin, then a sheet of baking paper over the top and fill the tin with raw rice or beans/chickpeas and bake for 10mins or so, then remove from oven, take out weights and paper and pop it back in the oven for 5mins. This cooks the pastry through a bit before filling and stops it from getting too soggy or puffing up too much.)

Bring a pot of water to the simmer, salt well and drop in the asparagus. Pull them out again after just 30 seconds and refresh in cold water.

Beat together all remaining ingredients with a fork.

Chop the asparagus into 2cm pieces.

Pour half the cheese mixture into the pastry crust.

Throw the asparagus on top of this – try and create an even-ish layer

Pour remaining cheese mixture into the crust

Pop the whole thing in the oven for 25-30mins or until it’s brown on top and just set in the middle – so it will still jiggle a bit.

Serve warm with some delicious salads (recipes to come soon) for a light summer dinner, or cold, from the esky, in the car on the way to a music festival the next day.

* As I mentioned, I was lazy and used bought shortcrust pastry - it actually worked really well, but if I was feeling more energetic I would use this pastry recipe, without the sugar.
** You could substitute a number of things for the goats cheese here, cream cheese or some grated aged pecorino. I'd love to get really decadent and use Meredith marinated feta in this - YUM!

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