Swiss Chard Tart with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

For many cooks the idea of making a tart seems a daunting task – especially during the summer. Who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when a hot sunny day beckons you outside. But since I am so fond of vegetable tarts and want to take advantage of the abundance of vegetables this season – in this case Swiss chard – I have developed a quick way to construct fabulous tarts using store-bought puff pastry. If you have enough time to saute the chard, then you can handle this easy recipe.

I grew  Swiss chard this year, but rainbow or red chard will work as well. All these varieties share the same beet flavor and cook similarly. Since bunches of purchased chard differ in size, I thought it would be helpful to tell you about how many leaves you’ll need to fill this tart. However, this is not a recipe that demands precision. More or less is fine.

I always use the stems as well as the leaves and separate them when cooking. After you wash the chard well, shake it dry and pat the leaves with a towel to remove excess moisture. Cut off the stems close to the leaves and keep them separate, then dice them into small pieces. To shred the leaves, I pile them on top of each other, then roll them into one log. I then cut across the log in thin strips, creating shreds. Again, precision is not necessary here; you just want to end up with small pieces.

Pepperidge Farm makes very good puff pastry sheets that can be found in the frozen food section of most supermarkets. Just leave one on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes or until it is thawed but still cold. Unfold it, roll it to a size that is large enough to fill a 9 inch or 10-inch tart pan or pie plate, then chill it again. You will need to lightly dust the work area with flour and trim the excess pastry with scissors, but that’s about it. So easy.

I prefer to use a tart pan with a removable rim. Not only do they make the most attractive looking tarts, but the ability to take off the rim of the pan allows the crust to stay crisper because it is exposed to air. When you take the finished tart out of the oven, place it on a small inverted bowl, such as one you would use for cereal, then gently ease the rim down. Now you can move the tart onto a cooling rack or trivet until you are ready to serve it.

If you only have a glass pie plate, after you fill it with the rolled out crust,  just chill rather than freeze it. The point is to have a cold crust go into a hot oven; that will make the flakiest crust. A frozen glass pie plate could break in a hot oven.

I love to serve this tart with a side dish of orzo tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese, but really, almost any starch or salad would be compatible.

I’m quite certain that once you discover how easy it is to prepare a tart using puff pastry as a crust, you’ll find yourself creating all kinds of versions using your favorite vegetable combinations.

Serves 4 as main course

1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, such as  Pepperidge Farm, thawed but still cold
20 large leaves Swiss chard, washed and patted dry (10 cups shredded)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/4 cups milk
1/4 grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
6 orange or red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half vertically

  1.  Sprinkle a little flour on a work surface, unfold the puff pastry, and roll it into an 11-inch square. Place it in a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and trim off the excess with scissors or by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the pan.Cover and freeze for 30 minutes, or place in a plastic bag and freeze up to 24 hours.
  2. Gather the washed chard together in bunch and slice off the stems. Dice the stems into 1/2-inch pieces and keep in a pile. Place the leaves on top of each other in one packet, roll into a log, then slice the log into shreds. Keep separate from the stems.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the stems. Cover the pan and cook about 5 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Pile on the Swiss chard and toss as best as you can using tongs. Cover the pan and cook just until evenly wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Mix in the milk and Romano or Parmesan cheese. Stir in the Swiss chard mixture.

6.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the crust from the freezer. Pour in the chard mixture, then sprinkle the goat cheese evenly over the top.

7.Distribute the cherry tomato halves evenly over the tart, gently pushing each one down a little bit. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the tart.

8.Bake 25 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Remove the sides of the tart pan and cool the tart on a rack. Wait 10 minutes before cutting.

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