Mum visited a good friend last week and came home with armfuls of freshly picked greens from her garden – rocket, kale and silverbeet (sporting leaves the size of small umbrellas).
Instead of defaulting to salad or steaming, I had a small burst of creative mojo and a desire to do something out of the ordinary with this abundance of winter greens, lovingly homegrown and as fresh as they come.
I turned to my cookbooks (rather sadly neglected for some time) in the hunt for a dish to pack in as many nutrient-dense leafy greens as possible (carnivores – stay with me here, I promise the story turns out well).
It was hardly surprising that the recipe that eventually caught my eye comes from Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my favourite chefs and champion of moving vegetables from side plate to main event.
I’ve tailored his original recipe for Corsican pie with zucchini flowers to incorporate the vegetables I had on hand – silverbeet, rocket and the green stems of some leeks that required only the white part for another recipe.
Indeed these personal adaptations essentially capture the ‘spirit’ of the dish, as Ottolenghi recommends:
“You can use a wide range of wild, cultivated or supermarket greens in this recipe. Consider nettles, beetroot tops, turnip tops, spinach or watercress in place of the chard. The combination is up to you, so choose the ones you like most. The zucchini flowers look wonderful but you can leave them out or substitute them with some long shaved strips of zucchini, if you prefer. Brocciu, produced on the island of Corsica and considered a national food, is a fresh young white cheese made with goat’s or ewe’s milk… but the easier-to-find Italian ricotta can be used just as well instead.”
I’m providing my adjusted recipe here but you can find the original Ottolenghi recipe at this link.
corsican pie with winter greens & ricotta
adapted from the recipe in ‘plenty more’ by yotam ottolenghi
2 green leek stems, finely sliced and rinsed thoroughly to remove any sand (substitute red or brown onion)
3 celery stalks and leaves, thinly sliced
8 large silverbeet (chard) leaves, white stalks discarded, leaves roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp torn mint leaves
2 tbsp chopped parsley
75 g feta, crumbled
50 g pecorino, finely grated (substitute parmesan)
15 g pine nuts, lightly toasted
grated zest of 1 lemon
350 g all-butter puff pastry
100 g brocciu cheese or ricotta
1 zucchini, shaved lengthwise into wide strips with a vegetable peeler
1 egg, lightly beaten
Place a large pan on medium heat and sauté the leeks, celery, silverbeet, garlic, mint and parsley in the olive oil. Cook, stirring continuously, for 15 minutes or until the greens have wilted and the celery has softened completely.
Remove from the heat and stir through the feta, pecorino, pine nuts, lemon zest, a pinch of sea salt and a hearty grind of black pepper. Leave aside to cool completely, as you don’t want to be putting warm pie filing on the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 220°C before preparing the pastry.
Roll out the puff pastry on a floured work surface until 3 millimetres thick. Using a plate or similar as a guide, cut out a large circle, approximately 30 centimetres (12 inches) in diameter.
Note: I bought sheets of puff pastry but the sheets were smaller than 30 centimetres in width so I used my nifty cutting and pasting skills, turning two sheets into one. If you choose to do the same, ensure that any joined pieces are fully sealed by gently – but firmly – flattening the overlapping seam with a rolling pin.
Place the circle of pastry on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Spread the filling out on the pastry, leaving a 3 centimetre (1.2 inches) border all the way around. Dot the filling with large chunks of brocciu or ricotta and layer the zucchini strips around border.
Fold the pastry border up around the sides of the filling and pinch the edges together firmly to form a secure, decorative lip over the edge of the tart. Alternatively, you can press the gathered edge with a fork.
Brush the pastry with beaten egg and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and cooked on the base.
Remove from the oven and brush with a little olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.