Chard and castelvetrano olive tart with a hazelnut crust

Chard and castelvetrano olive tart

I studied English literature and cinema studies in college. This means that I’ve been waiting tables for well over 20 years. It’s a strangely addictive profession! You might think you can find your way out, and get a “real” job, but the seductive world of restaurant service keeps drawing you back in. Recently there’s been a picture circulating the internets. A banker left a “tip” for his waiter; he left 1 %, moneywise, and then just the words “get a real job.” I ask you, which is a real job – serving people food that’s necessary for life, or playing around with arbitrary numbers that have some confounding and imaginary relation to money? (No offense to the bankers out there! All jobs are real jobs if you do them well – even banking!) Ahem – waitressing. It’s social, it’s active, the hours are flexible, and you can make a ton of cash on a good day. And it’s really hard. It’s not a job that just anybody can do. I’ve seen plenty of people who didn’t have the mental acuity, the physical stamina, the social graces, or the ability to take tons of shit from people for a ridiculously low wage. You meet a lot of interesting people, waiting tables. Everybody has something else they’re working towards. They might be artists, actors, musicians, students, moms … everybody has a story (and usually lots of stories) to tell. And I’m going to use my copious server experience to write a series of soon-to-be-bestselling self-help books entitled, What I Learned When I Served You Your Lunch. Lessons from the world of waitressing. For instance, we have a phrase, in the restaurant business. It describes periods of extreme unexpected busyness, when you’re short-staffed and overwhelmed, and you feel like you’ll never make it through the shift with your sanity in tact. You feel weeded. You’re in the weeds. This almost happened to me this weekend. Except that I don’t get weeded, because I don’t let myself. I simply say, “this will all be over before you know it; getting flustered will only make things worse; your customers are not half as aware of the situation as you are.” Right? Isn’t that a good way to think about other things that fluster you as you move through the world?

Sometimes I think about using my many years of restaurant experience to open our own place. It would be called The Ordinary, of course. It would be tiny, it would have two or three tables. It would have a set menu – one or two different things each day, and vague prices. And I’d serve things like this – this lovely savory tart, with chard from the CSA and beautiful, tasty castelvetrano olives. This tart is flavored with tarragon and basil – two very fresh and summery flavors. I chose the most anise-y basil that we’re growing, because it went well with the tarragon. I used more cheese in this tart than I usually do, which made it a bit like pizza (a selling point with Isaac, who eventually tried it and ate the whole thing and asked for more!) but you could easily use less. The crust was crispy and crunchy with hazelnuts, and went very well with the savory greenness of the tart.

Here’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress, by Belle and Sebastian.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup hazelnuts – ground
1/2 t salt
black pepper
1 stick frozen butter

Mix the flour, hazelnuts, salt and pepper in a big bowl. Grate in the frozen butter, and mix well with a fork so you have a crumbly consistency. Add just enough ice water to bring it into a ball. (For me it was exactly 1/2 cup). Chill till you’re ready to use it.


1 medium-sized bunch of chard, washed, and stems removed (about 1 cup cooked and packed)
1 clove garlic
2 scallions, white parts mostly, cleaned and chopped quite fine
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh tarragon, chopped
at least 2 T fresh basil (the extra anise-y kind works well here) chopped
1 cup (+/-) castelvetrano olives, pitted and sliced in half
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sharp cheddar – grated
1 cup mozzarella – grated
salt and plenty of pepper

Boil the chard in a pot of salted water for 5 – 10 minutes till it’s soft but still bright. Drain it in a strainer, and run cold water over it. Let it cool till you can handle it, then squeeze out as much water as you can. Chop very fine.

Warm the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it gets bubbly, add the garlic and scallions. When the garlic starts to brown, stir in the chopped chard. Cook till everything is warm and the pan is dry, then remove from the heat. Stir in the tarragon and basil. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425. Roll out the dough and press it into a butter & floured tart pan. Slash it in a few places. You can return it to the fridge to chill as you wait for the oven to preheat – this will help it keep its shape.

Cook the crust for about ten minutes, till it’s set and no longer shiny.

Whisk the eggs and milk in a big bowl. Stir in the chard and cheeses. Season with salt and plenty of pepper.

Spread the eggy mixture into the crust. Arrange the olives on top in a pretty pattern.

Cook for about 1/2 hour, till puffed and golden brown.

4 thoughts on “Chard and castelvetrano olive tart with a hazelnut crust

  1. I made this — slightly modified — for dinner tonight, and it was a hit! My not very adventurous 4-year old even tried it and ate it up! Well, I bribed him to try it, but not to eat the rest of it. I omitted the basil and tarragon because I didn’t have them, used an onion instead of scallions, forgot the garlic, and pan-fried my chard with the onions because I was too lazy to take the extra step of boiling it first. I also used regular kalamatas and added some capers too. It was so tasty!!!

  2. PS, the ingredient list calls for 1/2 cup flour in the eggy mix, but I think you mean milk since that’s what it says in the directions.

    • Ahhhh no! Thanks, I’ve fixed it. Thanks so much for pointing it out.

      I’m glad it worked out well. I like the ways that you changed the recipe. I always hope people won’t be discouraged from trying something because they don’t have one or two ingredients.

      And I’m glad your 4-year-old liked it. It’s funny about olives – my boys have always loved them. Isaac won’t go near a banana, for heaven’s sake, but give him a half pint of olives and he’ll gobble them in a few minutes.

      Thanks for letting me know you tried the recipe!!

  3. Pingback: Spicy zucchini-corn risotto with toasted pumpkinseeds, and Risotto burgers | Out of the Ordinary

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