Sunday, March 2, 2008

Meatless Main Dish Monday: Swiss Chard, Raisin, and Pine Nut Tart

Once upon a time, I was in journalism school, dating totally inappropriate men and doing drugs. (I'm kidding about the drugs, sort of. But that would explain the inappropriate men, so maybe not.) One night, my job was to go to a meeting and interview the newly elected president of the gay student alliance, which had some absurdly inclusive name like the gay-straight-bisexual-transgendered student alliance.

The newly elected president of the gay student alliance, whose name was (and still is) Kerry, turned out to be perfectly adorable, and we became friends. At one point, he set me up with his ex-roommate, who turned out to be a big old pot of refried crazy, which, given my already precarious mental health, threw me for what could kindly be described as a bit of a loop. Also, Kerry went to work for the post office part-time to help pay for school and he disappeared off the earth.

This was all more than ten years ago. This fall, Kerry sent me an email out of the blue, and as it turned out, we'd been living within about 15 minutes of each other without knowing it for several years. I was, in a word, beside myself. We haven't managed to hook up yet since we've found each other, although we trade off emails regularly.

Kerry's partner is the head concierge for a Whole Foods in D.C. Once a month, he does a cooking demonstration at the Dupont Circle Farm Market, and Kerry plays front man. I got an email on Friday saying that they'd be at the market this Sunday.

So off we went to the Farm Market, and there was Kerry with a pan full of Spanish tortilla and sauteed chard. "Oh my God!" he screamed across the crowd as soon as he saw me. "Are you Molly Chase, the famous food blogger?"

Is there a famous food blogger named Molly Chase? 'Cause it ain't me. But it's entirely okay, because I am once again thrilled to have found Kerry, and his friend can really cook. That tortilla was amazing, really delicious, healthy, and substantial without being overly heavy. I think this would have been a fabulous brunch dish. I didn't get to try the chard, but Dan is still talking about it and has asked me twice tonight if I can get a recipe for it. Also, Kerry has a friend who, inexplicably, was patient enough to have a grass fight with our 2 1/2 year-old son to keep him entertained, which people rarely are.

Am I retarded? I can't find this recipe anywhere on the internet. What I found, though, looks equally wonderful: a Swiss Chard, Raisin, and Pine Nut tart from Gourmet Magazine. The bonus: this is vegetarian, although it's not vegan, and it's a little savory, a little sweet, and absolutely gorgeous to look at.

I rarely make my own pastry dough--I am a cook, not a pastry chef, and only by interest, certainly not by training. This includes a recipe for pastry dough, which--what the hell? I may go ahead and give it a shot. I would make this for brunch, I think, because, as you know, I think brunch is awesome, with maybe a salad.

Kerry: it was great to see you today. Let's plan on doing it again as soon as possible. Teaism was great, too, by the way. Thanks for pointing us toward it.

In the meantime, here is this:

Pastry Dough for a Double Crust Pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 to 9 tablespoons ice water

Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper

Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough. Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper.

Divide dough with one half slightly larger, then form each into a ball and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Dough can be chilled up to 2 days ahead.

Swiss Chard, Raisin, and Pine Nut Tart

1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup water

2 lb green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs discarded

1 large egg

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest

1/3 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 oz), toasted

2 teaspoons confectioners sugar

Special equipment: an 11- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom

Bring raisins and water to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer chard with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain chard in a colander, then squeeze out excess water by handfuls. Coarsely chop chard.

Whisk together egg, cream, granulated sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in pine nuts, raisins, and chard until combined.

Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 15- by 11-inch rectangle and fit into tart pan (do not trim edges). Chill shell while rolling out top.

Roll out smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into a 12- by 9-inch rectangle. Spread chard filling evenly into shell, then top with second rectangle of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll over edges of pan to seal tart and trim edges, discarding scraps. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife, then put tart in pan on a baking sheet. Bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then remove side of pan. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Cooks' note: The tart filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Stir before using.


Kerry said...

The recipe will be posted at some time at

I should know. I ended up yelling it into the crowd for more than two hours.

Kerry said...

Uh...Forgot to mention...

Woo-Hoo! I'm on the internet!