Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Savory ricotta, onion and bacon tart

Weekdays are so busy with caring for Nik that on the weekends, when my husband is home and I get some breathing room, I just want to create.  I'm not sure what prompted me to decide to make a tart this weekend; I've never made a tart in my life.  Yeah, I'm a little crazy like that sometimes, I guess, but the bug had bitten so I was off and running.  Besides, it was the perfect excuse to go out and buy myself a tart pan!

Did I bother to look at any recipes? Nope.  Well, okay, one recipe —my great-grandmother's pie crust recipe; I substituted my gluten free sorghum flour blend and it came out fine.  The color isn't as golden as a traditional wheat-based flour crust would be but it was tasy and had a good texture to it.

I knew I wanted to keep the tart simple, in terms of ingredients, but wanted it layered with complementary flavors.  I decided on a simple ricotta cheese base with a few ingredients and seasonings added on top.  Kind of like a "white pizza" but on a pie crust. (Hey, roll with me here, okay?)

I have to say, I think it turned out well for my first foray into the land of tarts.  My husband loved it!  There were no leftovers remaining after lunch the next day and he's already asked me when I'm making another one.  My answer? Probably soon; it's so darn easy to make!

The ingredients and recipe for the crust:

1/2 cups flour (I used a GF sorghum blend.*)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening (I used palm shortening. You could use Crisco, margarine or butter.)
4 to 6 tablesppons cold water
* 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (ONLY for GF flour) (gives dough elasticity)

Mix dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Using either a pastry blender or two knives, cut in shortening until the mixture is the consistency of lumpy corn meal.  (NB: you may use your hands for this but it gets pretty messy!)  Add 4 tablespoons cold water until the dough is a soft pasty consistency with which you can clean the sides of the bowl.  If it's too dry add more water a little at a time until you get the right feel.  If it's too wet simply add a bit more flour.

Form dough into a soft ball.  Roll the dough into a medium sized circle. Place the dough in the tart pan, pressing the dough to the edges and creating a slightly raised edge.  You want it high enough to hold the ingredients you will add after you bake the shell. 

Bake at 350F for approximately 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.  Tart should be cool enough to touch the pan with your bare hand before adding the filling. Do not remove the shell from the pan.

Filling ingredients:
[NB: These measurements are approximate; I did not actually measure as I concocted.]

1 cup ricotta cheese (Use regular fat, not skim. Skim will make the filling very dry.)
1 cup diced tomato
1cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, shaved or very thinly sliced
5 to 6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled in large bits
1/4 to 1/2 cup romano or asiago cheese, finely shredded
1 Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb blend (You can sub equal parts oregano and garlic powder)
black pepper to taste

In mixing bowl, blend ricotta, oregano and pepper.  You may add bacon if you want it throughout the tart.  Spoon seasoned ricotta into the cooled tart shell.  Layer tomatoes, onions, bacon and mushrooms on top in any fashion you wish.  Top with shredded romano/asiago.

Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and lightly golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Makes a nice light main dish which goes perfectly with a spinach or caesar salad.  Or serve it as a side dish with something like Kristen's braised chicken with artichoke hearts.  Either way, you can't go wrong.

The beauty of this non-recipe is that you can really take it and play with it to make it your very own. Don't like mushrooms? Leave them out. Adore bacon? Add as much as you like.  Try it with cottage cheese if you don't have ricotta.  Top it with cheddar.  Mmm, layer sliced potatoes and bacon with cheddar and chives and you've got your very own potato skins tart! Garnish with sour cream for a yummy Super Bowl party snack! 

The possibilities are limited only by your taste and creativity.  Enjoy!


  1. I tried something similar a couple months ago using a frozen phyllo dough. It was a ricotta, lemon, zucchini tart. I know. The zucchini again. What can I say? We do love our zucchini. Anyway, it was delicious and yes, the sort of thing that can easily translate to other vegies with the ricotta base. I'd be curious to try more of a pie-crusty dough bottom, the phyllo got a little soggy next day... Maybe too much ricotta?

  2. Phyllo can be tricky/fickle about moisture. I found the ricotta releases a lot of moisture when it's baking in such a large mass. You might try the same recipe you made but make tartlets instead? Or layer some zucchini on the bottom as a buffer?

    The short dough (pie crust) is more forgiving of the moisture, for sure.