Chard, raisin, and pine nut tart with chickpea flour crust

IMG_6054I drove Malcolm to a middle school dance. We were listening to the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, we were driving through some of the prettiest countryside in the world, up and up winding roads to the school itself. It was a soft rosy 8 o’clock on the edge of an unseasonably warm day. I felt a little stale in the head, because I hadn’t slept too well, what with one thing and another, partly worrying about Malcolm being gone all day on a chorus/band trip to an amusement park. I’d weirdly missed him in the 4 hours after school we would usually spend together, despite the fact that the 4 hours after school the last two days had been fraught and difficult at times. In the scant time between the field trip and the dance we’d walked to buy two slices of pizza, and Malcolm said that it feels good to eat pizza when you’re walking down the street. So when we go home I made him watch the opening to Saturday Night Fever. And it’s not a bad thing to go to a middle school dance with the bee gees in your head. In the car on the way to the dance he didn’t seem tired, he was cheerful, and he asked me to tell David something when I got home. And I said “sure, sure” but I was lost in thought, and I didn’t hear him, and he knew it. I asked him to repeat what he said and he did, and then he said, “Don’t forget!” And put one finger from his right hand on his head, and one finger from his left hand on my forehead. We drove a little more and I said, “Can you do that again? With the fingers on the foreheads?” He said, “Why?” I said “I want to feel as bright and smart as you are.” He said, it works better like this…one hand, pinky on his head, thumb on mine. I leaned towards him, so we’d all fit, and the song playing on our radio said,

Every moment
Every moment
Every moment
Every moment

chard, raisin, pine nut and chickpea flour tart

chard, raisin, pine nut and chickpea flour tart

I said, while we were eating this that it could be the national dish of some country, and David said, “Claironia.” It’s true, this dish combines a lot of my favorite flavors. They just seem to go perfectly together. It’s juicy, a little smoky, a tiny bit sweet and a little nutty. The crust is crispy on the outside and soft and almost bready inside.

Here’s Every Moment by Rogue Wave from the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack.

The Crust

1 1/2 t yeast
1 t sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t salt
lots of black pepper

In a large bowl combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Leave for ten or fifteen minutes into a warm place until frothy. Add the olive oil and milk. Add the flours, salt and pepper and stir vigourously until everything is combined. You should have a thickish but stir-able batter, you can add a little warm water if it’s too thick, or a bit more flour if it’s too thin. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for a few hours to double in bulk and get nice and frothy.

The Filling

1 T olive oil
1 plump clove garlic, minced
1 t rosemary
1/2 t chili flakes or more if you like
1 big tablespoon golden raisins, chopped
1 bunch chard, washed and trimmed and chopped fairly fine
a few big handfuls of baby spinach, chopped fairly fine

a few ounces mozzarella
a few ounces smoked mozzarella
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup almonds or pistachio kernels, roasted or toasted
3 eggs
splash of milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
handful toasted pine nuts
pinch salt
lots of freshly ground pepper

Lightly grease a large cake pan with olive oil. Stir the chickpea flour batter and spread it into the cake pan, pushing it up the sides a bit and making the center a little flatter. Leave to set while you preheat the oven to 425.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, rosemary and chili flakes. Stir and cook until the garlic starts to brown. Add the raisins, stir and cook another half minute. Add the greens. Stir and cook until wilted. Continue to cook until the greens are soft and bright and the pan is fairly dry. Set aside.

If you don’t have a food processor, grate the cheese. If you do have a food processor, break it into pieces, put into the food processor and run till it’s grated. Add the nuts and run again. Add the eggs and process until fairly smooth. You want it to be about as thick as stiffly whipped cream. Add a splash of milk if you need to loosen it up.

In a large bowl combine the egg mixture, the ricotta and the greens and mix well.

Once the oven is preheated. Spread the egg mixture over the chickpea flour layer, leaving about 1/2 an inch around the edges. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until puffed and golden. Let set briefly.


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