Who says there’s no such thing as terroir in America? Claims of culinary authority abound: “My wife is from Maryland, and she is very picky about crabcakes.” “I lived in New York for 10 years. I know bagels.” “That’s not the cheesesteak I grew up eating in Philly. Real cheesesteak has . . . ”
As a native child of Southeast Texas/Southwest Louisiana, what can I claim to be an expert on? Gumbo? Rice and gravy? Etouffee? Barbecued crabs? All favorites for sure, but of my childhood home, not my adopted one. I’m not an expert on barbecue, or Tex-Mex, or wheatgrass juice, and thought I might never “get” Austin food. Until I cooked one of my favorite recipes from Suzanne Goin’s cookbook and Jesse said, “Is that the swiss chard tart from the Lucques cookbook? I was just going to make that!” Yes, here we all are, each in our own warm kitchens with the same harvest share. When I taste this week’s chard, or spinach, or kale, I know that the same flavors are shared and savored by hundreds of you. We can exchange recipes, swap stories and connect about food because we’re all eating the same things. That is really the strength of what we’re doing–sitting down at our communal table to share foods grown under the same sun, in the same soil, watered by the same soft winter rains, harvested by the same caring hands. What is terroir but a sense of place, a grounding in common soil, a joy in common flavors, a defining of “I” by “we”?
I might think “I” don’t like swiss chard, but “we” do, so I’ll find a way to enjoy it. And, lo and behold I did.
Warm Chevre & Swiss Card Tart with Pinenut-Currant Relish
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin
1 8×12 sheet puff pastry or 1 pkg Word on Food piecrust
2 egg yolks
1 bunch swiss chard, cleaned, center ribs removed
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 c sliced shallots
1 tsp thyme
1/2 c whole milk ricotta, drained if wet
1/4 c creme fraiche, yogurt, or sour cream
5 oz chevre
Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the puff pastry or piecrust to 8 x 12. Fold a 1/4 inch border around the edge and brush edge with 1 beaten egg yolk (you will not need all of it). Place crust o sheet pan and chill.
Tear chard into large pieces. Heat large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil and shallots. Saute briefly, then add swiss chard and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. When cool, squeeze moisture out and chop.
Whis ricotta, remaining egg yolk, olive oil and creme fraiche in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and spread on crust inside border. Spread chopped chard on top of filling, then dot with crumbled chevre. Bake 20-25 minutes until center is cooked and crust is golden brown. Serve with currant-pine nut relish.
1/2 c pinenuts, toasted
1/3 c olive oil
3/4 c finely diced red onion or shallots
1/3 c currants
1/4 c chopped parsley
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch chile flakes (optional)
Soak currants in warm water to soften, then drain. Saute onion or shallot in olive oil until just softened. Add vinegar and let bubble and reduce for a minute. Combine with remaining ingredients.