My first time in the South of France, I noticed how locals there would take long, lingering lunches that lasted at least 2 hours. On their table were, maybe, a carafe of wine, a basket of fresh bread, a main course, and always a salad. And whether their lunch was a poulet rôti, or a tartine, they were almost never eaten in a harried, on-the-go kind of way. Over there, they sit down for lunch. Period.
In the Provençal city of Aix-en-Provence, at restaurants along Cours Mirabeau or on the Place Forum des Cardeurs, les tartes and les quiches were often seen on the plat du jour offerings. Tarte Provençal – with its traditional tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, and olives in a cheesy egg base – is the most common; although, seasonal variations can also be found.
The French are the kings of tarts, les rois de tartes: they make a mean leek tart, red pepper and mustard tart, Alsatian (onion) tart…the list goes on. But my tart du jour is something that utilizes the bounty of the Fall harvest here in Canada (as well as in Europe). I used Swiss chard, leeks, and pears (you can use either Bartlett, Bosc, D’Anjou, or Forelle) to build this pie. Furthermore, I chose Comté cheese from the Jura mountains of the Franche-Comté region in France, to give it a sharp, slightly sweet, full-bodied flavour.
I cannot begin to tell you how fascinated I am by Comté cheese (see source here). It’s one of the first cheeses to be given the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) recognition in France, therefore, its crafting is a closely-guarded series of stringent requirements and processes. For example, only milk from the Montbéliarde and French Simmental cattle breeds can be made into Comté cheese. Also, each cow is given a whole hectare of pastureland to graze in, with every bovine eating only grass (no GMO’s) throughout their life. Every Comté cheese is aged a minimum of 12 to 18 months (some go up to 4 years).
This Swiss chard, pear, and Comté tart is made with an amazingly buttery and flaky brown rice and quinoa crust – recipe is from one of my favourite food stylist and photographer, Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille, whose first cookbook is coming out on October 23!
I have to thank Aran for featuring this on her blog because it is sooooo delicious! I made slight modifications to her original recipe, but I’m sure that either way you go, it’s some kind of wonderful!
Have you ever been deliriously happy because something you made or tasted was just off-the-hook? Well, that’s how I felt about this tart! And I really attribute it to the buttery quality of the Comté cheese, which really held everything together and made the tart so creamy and luxurious. In the end, not only did this tart make me swoon, it also took me back to a good place (the South of France) in my life.
And the awesome thing about this is, if you have leftover fillings, you can add it to pasta, make savoury crepes, or like what I did, make it into a filled omelet for breakfast the next day.
This one is going straight to my “good books” and will become a regular part of my recipe rotation! J’adore!
- ~~ For the pastry crust ~~
- ½ cup (70 g) brown rice flour
- ⅓ cup (45 g) quinoa flour
- ⅓ cup (35 g) almond flour
- 4 tablespoons tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 stick (110 g) cold or frozen butter, cut into ½" pieces
- 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
- ~~ For the filling ~~
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 cups (175 g) Swiss chard, chopped and tough ribs removed
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon sweet rice flour
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) cream
- 2½ cups (75 g) Comté cheese, shredded
- 1 medium ripe pear, thinly sliced
- To make the pastry crust, add the first six ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two times. Add the cold butter and pulse ten times until the mixture resembles very coarse sand.
- Add the 6 tablespoons ice water and pulse until dough comes together. It will not form a ball at this time. Check to see if the dough holds together when pressed between your fingers. Add more water, if needed.
- Turn the dough in a floured work surface. Knead it a couple of times and form a ball. If making 6" tarts, divide the dough in thirds. If making 9" tart, do not divide dough. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C). Take dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap the plastic. Roll it out on the plastic wrap to about ¼-inch thick. If dough cracks, press it back together.
- Using the plastic as an aid, lift your dough and invert gently on tart pan. Roll your pin on top to cut out excess dough. Remove plastic and excess dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Blind bake by covering with parchment and pie weights (use ceramic ones or dry beans). Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and paper and bake another 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool. The tarts can be made up to 2 days in advanced. If not yet using, store in refrigerator covered loosely with aluminum foil.
- To make the filling, heat pan with olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the leek and garlic, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chard, wine, half the amount of salt (1/2 teaspoon), half the amount of pepper (1/4 teaspoon), and nutmeg. Cook until chard is wilted and most liquid evaporated, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sweet rice flour, milk, cream, half the amount of Comté cheese, the remaining salt and pepper.
- Fill the tart crust with chard and top with pear slices. Pour the custard over it and top with remaining Comté cheese.
- If desired, protect the edge of your crust by wrapping around it a pie crust protector or make your own with a thin sliver of aluminum foil.
- Bake at same temperature, 375 F (190 C), about 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and golden. Let it cool slightly before cutting. Garnish with micro green or sprouts.