THIS RUSTIC TART makes me purr like a contented kitten. It’s filled with smokey ham and earthy kale. It’s scented with nutmeg and a splash of dry vermouth. It’s baked on a bed of tender, buttery, Pate Brisee. It’s…something you need to try:
To start, make some Pate Brisee dough. My recipe for this fabulous French pastry is described in detail here. Just wrap the dough in plastic, and then pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes. (For longer storage you can refrigerate pate brisee for up to 3 days, or freeze it for at least 3 months.)
Next, obtain a big bunch (at least 1/2 lb) of kale. I used Lacinato or “dinosaur” kale for this recipe, because that is what I found at my local organic farm store.
You can drink the green liquid (it’s good for you!) or you can add add it to your soup stock.
But Kevin, can’t I simply cook the kale in a skillet instead of fussing with the boiling, cooling, and squeezing routines?
Yes, you can. But then your tart will have a very soggy bottom.
Personally, I don’t enjoy soggy bottoms.
You might have a different opinion.
Does the scent of nutmeg have a calming effect on you? You can let me know by leaving a comment.
Give everything a quick stir. Then cover the skillet, lower the heat, and cook until the onions are perfectly tender — about 10 minutes.
Warning! When the vermouth hits the hot skillet, it will immediately release the most glorious perfume in the world. I’d describe the scent to you, but honestly, it defies description.
When the vermouth has evaporated, remove the skillet from the heat. Set aside to cool.
Bake on the lower-middle rack of a preheated 400°F oven until the cheese melts and the crust turns an appetizing shade of brown — 35-40 minutes. Then slide the tart onto a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes. When you are ready to serve, transfer the tart to a wooden cutting board.
For your convenience, here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above recipe:
Ham, Kale & Swiss Cheese Tart
Kevin Lee Jacobs
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 lb (or more) kale
1 large onion, diced
1 generous cup cubed, cooked ham
A big pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 tablespoon dry French vermouth
For the cheese base:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Swiss cheese
For the crust:
Single crust Pate Brisee, thoroughly chilled (recipe here)
For topping the tart:
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
A rimless baking sheet, lightly buttered or sprayed with vegetable spray
1. Preparing the kale — wash the leaves, and then cut out the tough central stems. Roughly chop the leaves, and then plunge them into boiling water until they wilt — about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander, run cold water over the leaves (to stop the cooking), and let drain for a moment. Then squeeze the leaves in a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Finely chop the semi-dry leaves and set them aside.
2. Making the filling — Heat the oil and butter in a skillet set over a medium flame. When the butter melts, add the diced onion, chopped kale, cubed ham, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to coat, and then lower the heat, cover the skillet, and cook until the onion is perfectly tender — about 10 minutes. Add the vermouth, and stir briefly. When the vermouth has boiled away, remove the skillet from the heat. Let cool while you prepare the cheese base and the pastry dough.
3. The cheese base — In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta and Swiss cheeses.
4. Rolling out the crust, and filling the tart — On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch-diameter circle. Transfer to a rimless baking sheet, and set in the freezer for 2 minutes or so. Then spread the cheese base atop the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Top with the ham mixture and then sprinkle on the 1/2 cup of shredded Swiss cheese. Fold the border over the filling, making pleats every 2 inches or so.
5. Baking — 35-40 minutes on the lower middle rack of a preheated 400°F oven. Bake until the cheese melts, and crusts turns an attractive shade of brown — about 35-40 minutes. Immediately slide the tart onto a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes. Then slide onto a wooden board for easy slicing.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Delicious with goblets of Sancerre or Pinot Gris.
Think you’ll give this Ham, Kale and Swiss Cheese Tart a try? You can let me know by leaving a comment.
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