Tag Archives: Leek

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart

This tart was an experiment of combining two recipes and it worked a treat! It all came about after dedicating precious hours, during Rafaela’s nap, to clean the pantry out. Prior to this I had found a trail of ants marching their way in and was baffled as to what they were after. A few months earlier, we had the same scenario and I realised they were all over the jar of honey!

So after pulling it apart and reorganising (also a very timely exercise since returning from Costco), I found too many half full bags of pastas, rice, noodles and polenta. I thought it wise to start fresh and finish them all off. In addition to this, the hubby had returned home with a bag of silverbeet earlier in the week. He actually thought it was spinach and for a long time so did I.

So what is the difference? Well sliverbeet is from the chard family, closely linked to beetroot. They have bigger stiffer leaves with white stalks and it needs to be cooked before eaten. This is due to the high level of Oxylic Acid. Spinach on the other hand has small, soft leaves and can be eaten raw in salads. Both are great sources of Iron and Folate. Depending on the recipe it can be pretty interchangeable; therefore a spinach pie or tart can easily use both.

It is just this scenario that inspired me to develop this blog. I would find all these various ingredients and just Google them in one sentence and see what comes up. I also reach for Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ to filter an expansive list of ingredients. I found a polenta crust from Donna Hay and a spinach & ricotta pie from Teresa Cutler’s ‘Healthy Chef’ blog. Added some lemon, garlic and parmesan (yep the freezer is pretty similar to the pantry at the moment, too many half full bags of cheese!) and we had a pretty tasty dish for the family.

I really liked the polenta crust, it was a great way to use the grain and it added a cheese like depth of flavour to the dish. I served the tart with a tomato and balsamic vinegar salad. It felt very light and fresh and best of all, Raff gobbled it down!

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart (Serves 12)

Polenta Crust

½ cup (75g) plain flour

1 cup (170g) instant polenta or cornmeal

120g unsalted butter, softened.

½ cup of water

Sea salt

Filling

500g baby spinach or silver beet (Swiss chard) – remove stalks and slice

1 leek sliced

1 garlic clove crushed

450g fresh ricotta

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

½ cup of Parmesan

Handful of fresh basil

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. To polenta crust, place the flour, polenta, butter, water and salt in the food processor and process until a dough forms. Press the dough into 24cm loose bottom tart pan (or grease a round cake pan). Top the dough with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and weights or beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp.

To make the filling, sauté the leek and garlic in a pan with a splash of olive oil until soft. Add the spinach or silver beet to pan and season with salt & pepper, nutmeg and basil. Cook until wilted, remove for the heat and drain any excess liquid.

Add the ricotta, lemon, parmesan and mix through until combined. Spoon the filling into the pastry lined pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven at 180 degrees until golden.

The making of the tart - Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

The making of the tart – Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

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Do you need a super cheap and super easy meal that everyone will love? Try making a Cauliflower & Leek Soup aka CC Soup (Cheap & Cheerful). I found this recipe from Teresa Cutter, the healthy chef (my new bible)  My mother dropped over a huge head of cauliflower, which sent my fingers to do the typing, on the hunt for a recipe that would somewhat disguise the vegetable from Rafaela. (It’s not cheap because I got the cauliflower for free…) It’s cheap because it is cauliflower season and cheerful because all you need is a leek (also in season) and 4 cups of stock or water.  It is the ultimate one pot meal; all you need is a hand blender to make it thick and smooth.

In addition to these benefits, Cauliflower is rich in sulphur which works as an anti-inflammatory, support digestion and boost your immune system. Everything Rafaela needs at the moment!

Now we’ve made this soup a couple of times now and I thought I’d taken photos of the creation, but it must have been gobbled up before I could snap it!  I was really surprised at how much Rafaela really enjoyed it and so did the hubby!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 large cauliflower, washed
1 leek, washed and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
good pinch of white pepper
3 – 4 cups (750 – 1000 ml) water or organic vegetable or chicken stock.

Method

Slice the cauliflower finely into small bits. Sauté the leek in 2 tablespoons olive oil over a medium heat for 3 minutes until softened.
Add the cauliflower and 3 cups of water or stock plus a little sea salt and pepper. Cover + cook for 5 – 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and then remove from the heat.
Puree in the pot with either a hand blender (careful of hot splashes) or place into a blender with 1 to 2 more cups of water or stock, depending on the consistency you like.
Serve warm soup with your choice of grated Parmesan or cheddar.

Some additions include; Broccoli or Spinach or  1 x 400g of Cannellini beans (White Beans)

Hand Blending Soup

Teresa’s recipe also includes a drizzle of Parsley Oil just before eating. It does give the dish a fresh flavour and works on a number of other dishes such as salads and drizzled over chicken and fish. The recipe is as follows;

Parsley Oil
2 large bunches parsley, washed and dried
1/2 cup cold pressed olive oil, macadamia or walnut oil
Pinch of sea salt

 Combine parsley, oil and salt into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a fine sieve and strain the oil from the solids. Drizzle over cauliflower soup just before eating.

Cauliflower and Leek Soup (aka CC Soup)

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