Savoury Summer Tart or Tartlets: Garden Greens, Dried Fruit, and Walnuts in Rose and Saffron Pastry
Adapted from Cristoforo da Messisbugo’s Torta d’herbe, from Festive Feasts, by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson.
A scant 1/4 cup (50 ml) sugar
10 saffron threads (about 1/4 tsp. or 1.25 ml)
1 tbsp. (15 ml) dried wild-rose petals
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (125 ml) cold butter
3 tbsp. (45 ml) rosewater
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cold water (in reserve)
1 egg, beaten, for glazing pastry
1. Combine sugar and rose petals in the bowl of a food processor and blend until the rose petals are the size of coarsely ground pepper. Add the saffron and pulse. Add the flour to the bowl and pulse once or twice.
2. Cut the butter in small pieces, add to the bowl, and pulse until the butter is the size of dried peas.
3. Beat the egg yolk with the rosewater, add to the bowl in two or three batches, and pulse briefly after each one. Pinch the pastry between your fingers to test if it clumps together and will roll out nicely. If not, add the tablespoon of cold water and pulse.
4. Dump the pastry onto a piece of waxed paper, press lightly into a ball, wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
2 lbs. (900 g) mixed garden greens, such as spinach, chard, and arugula, or a combination of wild greens in season, such as young dandelion leaves and fireweed tips or plantain, chickweed, and lamb’s quarters. Choose greens that wilt easily (spinach, plantain, or lamb’s quarters) and sturdier types (arugula and kale).
Extra virgin olive oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. (30 ml) finely chopped dried apricot
2 tbsp. (30 ml) sultanas or currants
1/2 cup (125 ml) walnut halves (pieces are okay if halves aren’t available, but remember that the smaller the piece, the more the processing and loss of flavour)
6 dried mission figs, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. (30 ml) bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat 2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil in a cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Add the tougher greens first, followed by the more tender, and sauté until wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat and let cool. Squeeze greens to
remove any liquid, then chop roughly and place in a bowl.
2. Add beaten egg to wilted greens, mix well, and then mix in dried fruit, walnuts, spices, salt, and pepper.
3. Preheat oven to 350° F (approximately 180° C). Bring pastry out of fridge, cut in half, and form each half into a rough ball. Now you have a choice: to make one big pie or tartlets of various sizes. If pie, use a 9-inch pan. If tartlets, which are more elegant and therefore more suitable for a tea, try the 3-inch or 1 1/2- inch size and be prepared to roll and cut, roll and cut.
4. Roll out the first ball of dough until 1/8-inch thick. Drape lightly over the pie plate or cut into the right size for your tart moulds. Press the dough gently into the plate or mould.
5. Sprinkle the bottom of the pie or tartlets with bread crumbs. Spoon in filling. For 3-inch shells, use 2 tbsp. (30 ml) filling; for 1 1/2-inch shells, use 1 1/2-tsp. (7 ml) filling.
6. Roll out remaining dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Drape over top of the pie. Clean up edges and crimp bottom and
top layers together. Brush with beaten egg. For tartlets, cut pastry into circles, brush with beaten egg, and set on top of the filling at a jaunty angle. Don’t worry about joining the top and bottoms together.
7. Bake tart for 45 minutes at 350° F or until pastry is golden brown; bake 3-inch tarts for 30 minutes and 1 1/2- inch tarts for 25 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Makes one 9-inch pie and about eighteen 3-inch tartlets or forty-eight 1 1/2-inch tartlets. Y