SPINACH AND BACON TART
Tart fillings made from greens such as spinach are always difficult to salt properly – too much and the tart’s inedible, too little and you risk expiring from boredom after a forkful or two. Adding bacon to this spinach filling helps, because the spinach itself then may be very lightly salted since you’ll have little bursts of salty bacon flavor in every bite. Makes one 10 or 11-inch tart, about 10 servings
Olive Oil Dough, below
1 pound baby spinach or one 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 ounces thin sliced bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup finely diced white or yellow onion
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces (about 1 cup) coarsely grated sharp cheddar, Gouda, or Swiss Gruyère
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
One 10 or 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom
- Roll the dough on a floured surface and line the pan. Use the back of a knife or a bench scraper to sever the excess dough at the rim of the pan; press the dough well into the bottom and side of the pan. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
- For the filling, rinse the spinach and place it in a colander to drain. Place the spinach in a large saucepan or other non-reactive pan with a lid and place over high heat. Cover the pan and let the spinach steam in the water clinging to it, uncovering and stirring it occasionally, until it is completely wilted and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain in the same colander and allow to cool. Once cooled, squeeze the moisture from handfuls of the spinach, then coarsely chop by hand. If using frozen chopped spinach, thaw and wring out the excess moisture.
- Cook the bacon over medium heat in a shallow sauté pan, stirring occasionally to keep the pieces separate. Once the bacon has colored nicely, remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon or strainer to remove the pieces from the fat. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan.
- Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
- Place the pan on medium heat and add the onion. Once it starts to sizzle, decrease the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion is wilted and just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach and bacon to the pan and season with a little salt, several grindings of pepper and a tiny pinch of nutmeg. Stir everything together until evenly combined. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the cream and grated cheese. Taste for seasoning. At this point, it should taste like well-seasoned creamed spinach. Add a little more salt and pepper if necessary. Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the milk. Scrape the filling into the prepared crust and spread it evenly.
- Bake the tart until the crust is well colored and baked through and the filling is set, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cool the tart on a rack and unmold it. Slide it from the pan bottom to a platter to serve.
SERVING: Serve small wedges as an hors d’oeuvre or larger ones as a first or main course.
STORAGE: Keep the tart at room temperature on the day it’s baked. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and continue storing leftovers at room temperature.
OLIVE OIL DOUGH FOR SAVORY PIES AND TARTS
This dough has a fine tender texture and excellent flavor which isn’t assertively olive-y. Of course it’s perfect for any Mediterranean-style savory pies or tarts, but can also function well in other recipes. It only takes about 5 minutes to make and has the advantage of being very tolerant if you take a little longer in rolling it out, since the oil won’t melt and make the dough sticky and unmanageable as butter might.
Makes enough for a single tart or pie crust
1 1/2 cups/200 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl and use a fork to stir together.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the oil and eggs. Use the fork to mix the oil and eggs and then gradually draw in the flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn out to a floured work surface and press the dough together, folding it over on itself several times to make it smoother.
- Use immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate until needed. This dough can stay in the refrigerator for several days.