Ham, Kale & Swiss Cheese Tart

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.

Wash the leaves, and then cut out their tough central stems. You can compost the stems or save them for vegetable stock.

Coarsely chop the leaves, and then plunge them into a pot of boiling water until they wilt — about 2 minutes.

Transfer the leaves to a sieve or a colander, cool them off under a stream of cold water, and then let them drain over a bowl.

Dump the wilted leaves onto a blue and white towel…

And then twist the towel to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

You can drink the green liquid (it’s good for you!) or you can add add it to your soup stock.

Transfer the greens to your cutting board, and chop them finely.

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.

Grab a large onion…

And dice it up.

Dice up some cooked ham, too. Or, buy a package of already-cubed ham. You’ll need one generous cupful.

Heat some butter and olive oil in a skillet.

When the butter melts, add the onions…

The kale…

And the ham.

Also add some salt and pepper…

And a pinch of nutmeg.

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.

Here comes the fun part. Add a splash (about 2 or 3 tablespoons) of dry French vermouth.

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.

While the filling is chilling, make the cheese base. In a  small yellow bowl, thoroughly mix 1 cup ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese. Set aside.

Now retrieve your thoroughly chilled pate brisee…

And roll it into a 12-inch diameter circle.

Transfer the dough to a rimless baking sheet, and pop it in the freezer for two minutes or so. The dough must be very cold for the next step.

Scoop the cheese mixture onto the center of the pastry, and then spread it out, leaving a 2-inch border all around. An off-set spatula is your friend here.

Spoon the ham mixture atop the cheese…

Sprinkle with a handful of shredded Swiss cheese…

And then fold the border of dough over the filling, making little pleats as shown. Lightly pinch the pleats to seal.

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.

You will get at least 6 servings out of this tart.  Brenda Johnson, my ever-lovin’ taste-tester, received the slice you see pictured above…

While I ate the remaining 5 (delicious) slices.


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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Other scintillating posts:
Easy-Peazy Cheese Crackers
Butternut Squash Pancakes
Tuscan Perfection: Panna Cotta


  1. Brenda Johnson says:

    This tart is so tasty and full of wonderful flavors!!! I was fortunate to score a piece of this for my lunch today. The aroma and distinctive taste of the nutmeg pairs perfectly with the heavenly filling of kale (hello- healthy!) onion,creamy ricotta and smoky ham…. melded together with the vermouth and topped with swiss cheese. I’ve said it before- I’ll say it again… ANYTHING that is served in or on Kevin’s pate brisee is unbeatable… hands down the best stuff on earth!!! Buttery and flaky…. this tart is sure to please anyone that tries it!!! I’m hooked!

  2. Looks lovely and can’t wait to try it. But…didn’t Lily have a piece? Was she out shopping? Missed seeing her!

  3. Lucky Brenda! I’ll taste test for you any time, Kevin! And oh, yes, I will be making this tart, very soon…. I have all but the ham in my fridge right now. And yes, I use nutmeg in various recipes. I find it gives a subtle lift to many meat dishes, and often generates questions from people asking what it was I put in the dish, as they cannot tell what the spice is, but they know I added something….

  4. Cary Bradley says:


  5. Gay sullivan says:

    This sounds wonderful!! Soggy bottoms??? My yard, now that I can see part of it, is looking very soggy but I’ll take it over any more snow ! Love the step by step,picture by picture recipes.

  6. I love your tarts!

  7. Diane H Hinkle says:

    That does look delicious. I am getting old…….born in the early 40’s……….and I wanted to comment about nutmeg. We only used it in sweet things, baked goods, cookies. It has taken some getting used to having it used in different food items that are not sweet. It does add an interesting element to them. I wonder if any others of my generation experienced the same thing.

  8. Ava lansbery says:

    Love your recipes, and your humor….please keep up your good works.

  9. I want to know why the towel has to be blue and white ? 🙂 have just discovered cooking with Kale and so excited to try this recipe..loved the fact that just reading it made me smile.

  10. Stephanie says:

    I love all of your rustic tarts! So does my family. I always have an excess of Kale in the garden (even though I love it and eat it in everything, even smoothies) so this is perfect!

  11. Looks yummy! Will put on the menu for next week.

  12. This looks like a keeper. I laughed at your soggy bottom comment. I so enjoy your descriptions and photos. My yard is just beginning to show some patches of dead looking grass. Our snow depth is back down to what it was before our last dump of 7″ on 3/18, about 2′ deep in most places. Spring really needs to hurry along and melt this snow.

  13. This is a lovely recipe Kevin.
    I hope you don’t mind me pointing a typo.
    It is, after the 9th photo, just before the onion.
    Right after the italics, it’s written :
    Yes, you can. Butthen your….
    The but and then have sort of fused together 🙂

  14. I wish I was Brenda Johnson. Do you need another taste tester?

  15. Katie Zack says:

    I will be making this very soon since I just discovered a package of ham in the freezer and my wintered over kale is thriving! Since I have two boys who are very healthy eaters I will have to make two!

  16. manju mehra says:

    Sounds great Kevin. can i use store bought pastry dough??? i know it is a come down, but soooo much more convenient. Not too good at dough making. thanx Kevin, love your blog, recipes & the whole shebang . lv Manju

  17. I love this recipe and YES nutmeg does have a calming effect on me! Dinner tonight!

  18. Melissa H. says:

    Wow wow wow…wishing I was a guest at your table!

  19. Your rustic tart looks delicious. Why the warning? I’d lean in for the smell of that Vermouth!

  20. I am making this tart this week it looks delicious!
    You have several variations of Pate Brisee in you posts. The “Crust you can trust” recipe looks like a good go to option to keep on hand. What would you recommend?

  21. Kevin,
    We thoroughly enjoy your tart recipes and am sure this one is equally delicious … what’s not to love — kale! cheese! your out-of-this-world pate brisee! It is supper for tomorrow night with a salad and bread from local coop. Again, thank you for all your wonderful recipes and helpful pixs, along with delightful comments!

  22. Kevin, Am new to your blog and excited to be a part of it. Love what I’ve read so far and comments from your readers are interesting. This tart looks and sounds so good that I must try it. If I don’t have a yellow bowl for the ricotta portion, can I use a red one?

  23. Ramona Welden says:

    Sounds so good think I’ll serve to my bridge club

  24. Now I’m hungry after reading thru the recipe! You bring it to life Kevin and I can actually smell the nutmeg and vermouth while reading! Can’t wait to try this.

  25. What a lovely recipe for an elegant spring brunch!

  26. Karen Stein says:

    Kevin, I love your blog; I await every posting even though I am a vegetarian (gasp!) and a diabetic. Lots of those delicious things you make are not intended for me. But I crave your musings and humour as much as the beautifully photographed food…. you never disappoint me. Thank you !

  27. I’d love to make this with just veggies. 🙂 Yes, another vegetarian! lol

    I’m so boggled down with homework the closest I get to cooking is heating up soup. I’ll add this lovely recipe to my ever growing wishlist.

    Like Karen wrote, we enjoy all aspects of your blog.
    Many thanks!

  28. Oh this looks soooo yummy. I will definitely try making this tart.

  29. I have tried the Tart , I used Swiss Chard. Its even good the next day for Lunch. Thank you for the crust recipe. Marian

  30. Hi Lisa – I do have several versions of Pate Brisee on this site. All are fabulous. My current favorite (all-butter) is mentioned under the second photo of this post. Just click the highlighted text and the recipe will pop up.

    Marian – Nice to hear that this tart is good even on day two. Mine didn’t last long enough for leftovers!

  31. Brenda Johnson says:

    This will be on the table for our Monday Meal this week!!!! Can’t wait to have more!!!!! ( I hope mine is as good as yours…..)

  32. Alicia O'Neal says:

    That look’s absolutely tasty dinner treat:)

  33. Trudi Dido says:

    Yay another way to get kale into my good husband ! thanks . Drat, I just bought a new mixer ..after 47 years of using our wedding shower one it said” I quit.” and the beaters fell out and I think it’s earned it’s rest. Many good years ahead for you and your blog and all your readers. I SO look forward to early Sunday morning with you . Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience. with all of us . Hugs

  34. Kevin I just wanted to tell you we loved this recipe. I am home recovering from surgery but able to get around the kitchen just fine. We did a test run of this recipe and I’m embarrassed to admit to save time, we purchased a rolled pie crust to use instead of the pate brisee. Not one of those frozen cheap ones but a nice one in the refrigerated section. It was still great – even our 13-year-old enjoyed it. I made it a second time with my family for lunch, and added artichokes to the bottom underneath the ham/kale mix as it lightened the flavor just a little. I also tried using baby kale as it was less work to remove those stems without any loss of flavor.

    I’m gluten sensitive so i just picked up a Bob’s Red Mill GF pie crust mix. It’s certainly not pate brisee but I will give it a shot. I’m also curious if chevre might make a nice base in lieu of ricotta for readers who are dairy sensitive?

    Anyway – I often drool over your recipes but rarely do I make them multiple times! Bravo. This is a keeper.

  35. I am a big fan of swiss chard, I grow it in pots. I am going to substitute it for the kale. Looks really delicious.

  36. What a yummy looking tart! Can’t wait to try it next Saturday for some company. My husband and I are currently monitoring our food intake but we will definitely walk extra miles this week to allow sampling of this beautiful looking tart! Kevin, everything you show looks absolutely wonderful and tastes even better!

  37. Brenda Johnson says:

    Making this AGAIN for dinner tonight!!! So easy- so delicious!

  38. Karen Hermansen's says:

    Can I make it without vermouth?

  39. Karen Hermansen says:

    I ended up making it without vermouth and it was just fantastic. I brought some leftovers with me for lunch at work and just warmed it up enough so it was room temp– again wonderful! Will make this for company someday, especially when the kale is ready for,harvest, along with fresh garden tomato slices.

  40. Karen – I’m so glad you made — and liked — this tart.

  41. Hi Kevin, I tried the ham, kale, and swiss cheese tart last night and served it to company. There were 6 of us total and everyone raved about it. I did not hesitate to serve something I had never made before as I knew it would have to be good. It wasn’t difficult to make and I could sure taste the buttery crust. I’ll be experiment with all kinds of ingredients. The options are endless. Thank you for sharing this keeper!

  42. Good recipe, but if you use fresh, baby kale, like this, http://wp.me/p44c6k-xn, there’s no need to wilt the leaves first.


  1. […] I was ready to cook again. I made this lovely kale and ham tart from A Garden for the House, only with cheddar instead of Swiss cheese. For some reason, my filling […]

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