Chard and fresh mozzarella tart with raisins and shallots

Chard and fresh mozzarella tart

Chard and fresh mozzarella tart

I always feel like I’m waiting for summer to start and then one day I’ll wake up and realize we’re already well into it. These days have been like that. It’s July! It’s sweltering! The boys are rolling around the house laughing and screaming and making each other crazy. We go to the river almost every day and have the most beautiful fresh herbs and vegetables to eat. We have arrived! It’s a funny thing because I generally approach summer with a slight feeling of dread. I’m nostalgic for spring, I miss walking Isaac to school, I miss the sense of purpose I had when I was working on my novel. And all of the fun things a person looks forward to in summer strike a chord of anxiety into my strange and always-anxious heart. I love to see Malcolm happy in the water, which is his natural element, but I worry about riptides and sharks and river currents and copperhead snakes. Sunshine makes me dizzy and more confused than usual. I’m scared of thunderstorms. It’s so stupid, I know! Sometimes I even miss the simple icy indoor days of winter. Crazy. But today I was thinking that I like my house in the summer, I like my town, I like my garden, I like being with my boys all day. I like just being here. I can almost imagine this place as our summer house, where we spend long lazy days swimming and reading and writing and cooking, drinking wine and talking. I like to think of it that way. In my imagination, our home is our home away from home, and I love it here. After all, summer passes so very quickly these days. We’ll slow it down by staying still.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the combination of chard, pine nuts and raisins. And I’ll find anyway I can to combine them. Here they are in a sort of tart. I made a jam of shallots and raisins and garlic, and I spread this on a yeasted crust. Then I topped that with a custard made with chard, fresh mozzarella and pine nuts, and of course lots of fresh basil, which is one of the best things about summer. And I put some slices of fresh mozzarella and more pine nuts on top.

Here’s Summertime by Billy Stewart.

THE CRUST

1 t yeast
1 t sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups flour (+/-)
3 T soft butter
1 t salt
1 T sugar
ground black pepper

In a large bowl combine the yeast, sugar and one half cup warm water. Set aside in a warm place for a few minutes to get foamy. Then add everything else, as well as enough water to make a soft workable dough. Knead for about seven to ten minutes until it’s soft and springy. Set aside to rise in a warm place for a few hours.

THE FILLING

Layer 1…

1 largish shallot, peeled and trimmed
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 T olive oil
1 t balsamic
splash of white wine
1 t thyme
2 t rosemary

Combine the shallot, garlic and raisins in a food processor and whiz until finely chopped (or finely chop them by hand!)

In a small saucepan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the shallot raisin mixture, rosemary and thyme and stir and cook until they’re all browned and caramelly, maybe ten minutes. When the pan starts to dry out add a bit of balsamic or a dash of wine, and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Layer 2

splash of olive oil
1 medium-sized bunch of chard, washed and trimmed and roughly chopped
1/3 cup pinenuts (plus more to scatter on top)
a big handful fresh basil
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
about 4 oz fresh mozzarella, a bit of it cut into thin slices, the rest broken into pieces
pinch of salt, lots of pepper

In a skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chard and stir and cook until its bright but wilted. Add a spoonful of water if the pan dries out too much, but you want it to be quite dry by the end.

In a food processor, combine the eggs, milk, chard, basil, pine nuts and non-sliced fresh mozzarella. Blend until fairly smooth and flecked with green.

TO ASSEMBLE

Lightly oil a cake pan or a tart pan with tallish sides (I used olive oil). Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, curling it around the top slightly so it will stay up. Let it rest while you preheat the oven, and then bake it for five or ten minutes till it just loses its shine and you’re sure it will stay up.

Spread the shallot and raisin layer evenly over the bottom, and then pour the egg/chard mixture over that. Arrange the sliced cheese on top and scatter the pine nuts.

Bake 25 minutes or so until puffed and golden. Let cool slightly, slice, and serve.

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