Monday, 19 July 2010

What's In My Basket? - new potatoes, sunflowers, baby chard, sorrel, marjoram, chioggia beets, courgette flowers, salad and spring onions

It's crazy weather for growing vegetables this year, all extremes with nothing in between. My chard is still quite tiny but I was given an enormous bag of lush  super-sized chard by my parent's neighbours. I used it to make a big ricotta and chard pie for a picnic to celebrate 200 years of Shaw Farm in Wiltsire.

Ricotta, dill and chard filo pie recipe

You can make this pie with just chard or a mixture of leafy greens. I picked a luscious and juicy bunch of sorrel, beet tops and chard.

1 small red onion or shallot finely chopped (approx. 100g)
1 big bunch (500g) of chard (stalks and leaves)
1 small dried red chilli pepper
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the flat of a heavy kitchen knife
2 eggs
400g ricotta
1 tbsp of finely grated Parmesan
zest of one lemon
a few good scrapings of nutmeg
1 small bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped
1 packet of filo pastry
olive oil for brushing the pastry (its more traditional to use melted butter but easier and I think just as tasty with olive oil)
butter for greasing
sea salt black pepper

Lightly butter a deep gratin dish (approx 15cm x ain2cm)
Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Wash the chard well and drain in a colander. Strip the leaves from the stalks and put to one side. Dice the stalks finely. Roll the leaves up into a fat cigar and cut into very thin ribbons (chiffonade).

In a separate bowl mix the ricotta with the eggs, the Parmesan, the lemon zest, the dill, the nutmeg a few turns of the pepper mill and a tsp of salt. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a heavy, wide frying pan, when the oil is hot add the onion and sweat over a medium heat until transparent, add the chard, the garlic and the chilli pepper. Cook until the chard is tender (about 7-8 minutes). Add the greens and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the greens are wilted. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. When cool, add to the bowl with the cheese and egg mixture. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

Remove the filo from its packet and gently unwrap it - don’t worry if it rips a little bit, this pie is very forgiving. Place a sheet of filo on the work top and brush lightly with olive oil. If you don’t have a pastry brush you can always zig zag the oil over the pastry and spread it out with your hand, no ones watching. Place another sheet of filo on top of this piece and brush a little more oil on. Gently lift the pastry up and place in the bottom of the dish, a low a little (10cm) to hang over the edge but trim it if it’s too long. Repeat until you have six sheets of filo pastry in the bottom of the dish. Spoon the chard and cheese mixture into the pie dish. Level it off and top the pie with six more layers of pastry brushed with oil. You can trim this to fit the top of the pie exactly or let it hang over, as you wish. When the pie is assembled take a sharp knife and score the pie diagonally across the to make diamonds, taking care not to pierce the bottom layers of pastry. Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the top of the pie is golden and the sides a deep crunchy brown. Allow to cool and serve with a salad of mixed leaves preferably freshly picked.

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