Pistachio ricotta tart topped with greens

Pistachio tart with greens

Pistachio tart with greens

“You’re probably a year old! You’re not a puppy anymore! Stop chewing up my reading glasses.” “You’re a big seven-year-old boy, stop crying over every little thing.” “You’re nearly eleven years old, learn how to share with your brother!” Yes, I’ve been resorting to the tired parental chestnut of “you’re too old to behave that way,” and this has been my constant refrain of late, generally said with a weary sigh. Of course I realize that my boys could easily answer back, “Well you’re a middle-aged old fool and you cry at stupid things, too.” And Clio could say, “Well, teach me how to read! I want to reeeeeaaad!!” And they would all be right. I read an article recently that examined our changing ideas of how we should all be comporting ourselves at a certain age. People in their twenties used to be considered adults, with jobs and houses and responsibilities and children, and now they’re just roustabouts clinging desperately to every shred of youthful irresponsibility. And by the time we’re fifty or sixty we’re pretending to be thirty or forty. It’s all just one life-long delusional muddle. And maybe they’re right, the writers of this article. They’re probably right. But it’s hard to move through life gracefully, acting as expected at every stage. It’s hard to respond with appropriate maturity to all of life’s frustrating situations. Sometimes it seems as though everybody is constantly struggling not to act like a toddler, desperately trying not to pout or scream about not getting what they want. Some days it is hard to keep from crying over every little thing. Many days I feel less mature than the boys: when I yell at them irrationally or say something petty and childish. They’re very patient with me. From time-to-time I feel that Malcolm is even taking care of me. He saw a biting fly in the car just before I drove off, and he tried to show it the door. When it wouldn’t leave he said, “Mom, don’t get scared and crash the car.” One day, he and I went for a walk and it started to thunder. I grabbed his arm. He said, “sometimes I feel as though I’m the parent and you’re the child.” I laughed until he added, “I hate that feeling.” Sob! Since then I’ve been more careful. I have a lot of fears, but I’m a strong person, and I understand why it’s important for him to know that. And I am a useless lout of a forty-four-year-old ne’er-do-well, and I do go into a sad panic at the thought of growing older. But part of what makes it less frightening and even hopeful is the thought of my boys growing big and strong and funny and wise, the thought of them meandering through life at whatever the going rate is when they’re twenty-year-olds and thirty-year-olds, the thought of them making sense of their own beautiful muddle of time passing.

Deep pistachio tart

Deep pistachio tart

David said this might be his new favorite! I’m very excited about it! For my birthday I got a lovely deep tart pan (thanks mom & dad!). I decided to make a high crust, with a layer of pistachio ricotta custard, and then to sautée some greens and pistachios to pile on top. It worked very well! A nice combination of flavors and textures. You could really taste the pistachios in the custard, which was a treat. The crust is half semolina flour, which makes it very crunchy. I used garlic scapes with the greens, because it’s that time of year, but you could use regular garlic. You could also add tomatoes or olives to the greens if you were feeling fancy. And you could absolutely make this in a normal-sized tart pan or even a cake tin.
pistachio tart with greens

pistachio tart with greens

Here’s I was Born, by Billy Bragg and Wilco, featuring Natalie Merchant. She doesn’t know how old she is!

THE CRUST

1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 t salt
lots of freshly ground pepper

Combine the flours, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Grate in the frozen butter and mix till you have a coarse crumb-like consistency. Add enough ice water to form it into a workable dough. Knead lightly for about a minute to make sure everything is combined. Form into a round patty, wrap in foil, and chill for at least half an hour.

Butter and line a deep tart pan (or a regular one is fine, if that’s all you have. Even a cake pan would work.) Preheat the oven to 400. Roll the dough to fit the pan and press it in, making it even. Prebake the shell for ten or fifteen minutes till it just feels firm to the touch and loses its shine. If the dough falls, carefully press it back up with your fingers or a spoon.

THE RICOTTA FILLING

1/2 cup unsalted pistachio kernels
1 cup ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 t balsamic
small handful of fresh basil leaves
pinch salt
lots of black pepper

Grind the pistachios in a food processor until quite fine. Add all of the other ingredients and process until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prebaked tart shell, and bake for about 20 minutes, till the filling is puffed and golden and springs back when you gently press it.

Top with…

GREENS AND PISTACHIOS

3 or 4 cups greens washed and trimmed. I used half chard, half spinach, but kale or beet greens would work as well.

2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic or one garlic scape, trimmed and minced
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
dash of balsamic and lots of freshly ground pepper

Chop the greens very finely. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic or garlic scape, red pepper and rosemary, and stir and fry until the garlic just starts to brown. Add the greens, and continue to stir and fry until they’re wilted but bright. The time will depend on the type of green you use, with spinach taking only a couple of minutes, and kale taking 5 or 10. Add a little water to the pan if it dries out before the greens are as cooked as you like, but make sure to cook till the pan is dry again before you serve. Remove from heat, stir in the pistachios, balsamic and black pepper and taste for salt.

Pile the greens on top of the cooked tart. Slice and serve.

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