Spring is in the air. I can say that with authority because when I walked around town doing errands today, I kept running into friends and acquaintances who all said, “Spring is in the air!”
See, I told you I was authoritative.
Street chats aside, the other reason I know that we’re heading into spring is because the grocery stores are filled with amazing vegetables. Vegetables that are so pretty that I was giddy when I put them in my basket. Crisp little green asparagus stalks, pure white asparagus, sassy broccoli rabe bundles, and – joy of joys – organic cherry tomatoes that looked like they came straight from the farmer’s market.
Tomatoes and I have a rough relationship in the winter. After hearing the Splendid Table show where they discussed how buying plum tomatoes is giving money to slave traders – well, let’s just say I eye them warily. (No joke by the way. I’ve linked to the episode and you really should listen to it. It’s mind blowing. Seriously.)
So, in the dark days of winter I buy hydroponic tomatoes and hope for the best. But, when I saw this container of tomatoes I was thrilled. In my mind’s eye I saw them in a variety of recipes, but first I saw them in a herby ricotta pie with fresh dill and cheddar.
Note: There’s also dill in the pie dough. That’s because around our small kitchen we have a phrase: “There’s no such thing as too much dill.”
Tri-Color Tomato and Ricotta Tart with Dill
2 ½ cups of flour (+ more for kneading)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 stick of very cold butter, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons of fresh dill
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1/3 of a cup of ice water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the flour, salt, pepper and butter into a food processor. Pulse 5 times. Add the egg, dill, vinegar and ice water. Pulse 5 or 6 times until the dough is crumbly, but will stick together when you squeeze some between your fingers. Scatter some flour on your work surface and knead the dough just until it comes together in a ball. Cut the dough in half, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for half an hour. Freeze the other half of the dough for future use.
Roll the dough out so that it’s slightly larger than a pie or tart pan. Press the dough firmly against the pan and gently trim off any overhang. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes before adding the filling. (The crust will be firm and slightly golden.)
1 cup of thinly sliced organic cherry tomatoes
2 cups of low-fat ricotta
½ cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup of grated parmesan
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
¼ cup of chopped fresh dill
¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
Place the tomatoes on a paper towel and lightly salt them. Let them sit for a half an hour to try to pull out as much moisture as possible. Pat them dry and set aside.
Mix the ricotta, cheddar, parmesan, lemon juice, pepper, dill and parsley together in a medium bowl. Spread the mixture over the crust and level with a knife or spatula. Gently place the tomatoes on top of the filling and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
(Photos by Launie Kettler)