Back to the drawing board.

From J., 22 October 2010, What else can we make?

Q: [The pumpkin appetizers] sound fantastic! A slight glich though, and I should have mentioned earlier: we’re serving pumpkin ravioli with a sage butter sauce as an entree and I think this might be overload on pumpkin!

You posted a dumpling, I think you did it for a party, with an edamame filling…It looked fantastic. What do you think about that instead? Good for a crowd? Holds up well for hours?

A: Whoops! I didn’t realize you already were doing a pumpkin dish. I should’ve guessed, though … pumpkin is bound to make an appearance on any Halloween menu.

You asked about the edamame dumplings I posted on my Facebook page. I’m happy to share that recipe, but I don’t think it’ll go well as a starter with the pumpkin ravioli. Also, it won’t hold up well. Dumplings dry out quickly and become rubbery unless you can keep them moist (like over steam); I prepared them à la minute for table service, not a buffet. So let’s try something else instead.

Are you setting the food out buffet-style? Consider using the beet, only making an appetizer with both components. Make a roasted beet salad – with a sherry vinaigrette and some nice blue cheese – and a beet green tart, with a walnut crust. Frugal, uses all the components of the beet, a great fall dish, and a good lead-in to the ravioli.

Beetroot salad with beet green tart

For 16 people, small portions

8 beets, scrubbed well, greens removed and reserved
4 ounces Maytag Blue or other blue cheese, cut into very small wedges or crumbled
4 ounces (about 1 cup) shelled walnuts, broken
4 c arugula, washed and spun dry
¼ c sherry vinegar
½ c olive oil plus extra for roasting
Salt and pepper

Prepare the salad described in this earlier post about beetroot. Don’t worry about artful presentation as in the photo. You can toss everything in a bowl, but leave off the arugula until service.

Prepare the tart.

For the dough:

1 3/4 c flour
½ c toasted walnuts, ground in a food processor (use the sugar below when grinding to keep it from turning to butter); you also can buy walnut flour and use that instead
6 tbsp shortening or lard (shortening for vegetarians), cold, cubed
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
1/3 c plus 1 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

Greens from beets, separated into leaves and stems, and washed very well
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c ricotta cheese
1 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 eggs, beaten
2 lemons, zested and juiced
large pinch grated nutmeg
olive oil
salt and black pepper
handful flat-leaf parsley, washed, dried, and minced

400F oven.

First, make the dough. In a bowl or a food processor, combine the flour, ground walnuts, and salt until totally incorporated. Add the cubed fats and cut with a pastry cutter or pulse the food processor just until the fat and dough combine in pea-sized bits. Add ice water to the dough and stir with a fork or pulse until just incorporated. You will not have a smooth dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gather to a pile or rough ball. Knead and turn once or twice until the mixture holds together. If you are skilled at pastry, use fraisage (pushing the mixture out with the heel of your hand, then folding it over itself and repeating) to achieve a flakier crust. Form into a square or rectangle and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until ready to use (let it rest at least an hour).

Next, make the filling. Stack the chard leaves several at a time, roll tightly, and slice as thinly as possible (chiffonade). Dice the stems about 1/4″ or smaller if you can.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden; add the garlic and sauté a minute more until just fragrant. Do not brown. Add the leaves and stems and saute until tender and wilted. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice to taste (a little less than 1 lemon, not much more), salt and pepper, nutmeg, and zest of one lemon. Stir together the ricotta and the egg. When the beet green or chard sauté is cool, stir in the ricotta. You can make a test quenelle and cook in the microwave to taste for seasoning – adjust by adding more acid, lemon zest, salt, or pepper

Divide the dough into two portions and press the dough into each of two rectangular tart pans with a removable bottom (if you don’t have one, you can use a regular round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom – the rectangular shape is nice, though). Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork in several places. Bake blind for about 8 minutes, until it firms up slightly. Cool.

Spread the filling in each of the blind baked tart shells. Bake until set, about 20 minutes.

Slice each tart into about 8 pieces. Plate with beet salad on the side.

2 thoughts on “Back to the drawing board.

  1. Pingback: One more time. « The Upstart Kitchen

  2. Judy Gasik says:

    Beets, love it! The tart looks superb and I’ll shop for the ingredients, make a test run this evening.
    A million thanks!

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