Chard and Pear Tarte from Nice (Tourte de Blettes)

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This is an unusual traditional dessert from Provence where chard leaves are the main ingredient, complemented by pears and raisins or currents, soaked in anise-flavored drink. The pastry has yeast, olive oil and eggs, and is scented with lemon zest.

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Serves 12-15

The Pastry:

4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour

1 package instant dry yeast

1 pinch of salt

½ cup (100 grams) sugar

Zest from I large, preferably organic, lemon

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup water or more, as needed

The filing:

3 pears, peeled and quartered, seeds removed, cut into small chunks

2 bunches (about 1 kilo) chard, thick stems removed, and reserved for another dish; the leaves shredded very finely

¾ cup (150 grams) sugar

1 ¼ cup (60 grams) grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1 cup currants or raisins, soaked for 20 minutes in ½ cup Pernot or Ouzo

½ or more dried breadcrumbs, as needed

Olive oil for drizzling

Orange Flavored Water (optional)

Confectioner’s Sugar

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Make the pastry: Mix the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and lemon zest, and toss. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and olive oil, plus 1/3 cup water and work the mixture to get a soft dough. Cover with a wet cloth and let rise for 1 hour or more, until almost doubled.

Make the stuffing: Place the pears in a saucepan and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Increase the heat so that the water is almost completely absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Place the shredded chard in a large bowl, sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and rub with your fingers to wilt the leaves. Add the pears, the cheese, the eggs, the rest of the sugar, the pine nuts, the raisins and their liquid, and stir well to mix. If it is too wet, add some breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

Make the pie: Line a pan with parchment paper.  Take 2/3 of the dough and roll into a rectangular piece to fit the bottom and rise a bit on the sides of your pan. Pour the filing inside, even with a spatula and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

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Roll the rest of the dough to make the top and cover the pie, crimping the sides to enclose the filing. With scissors cut small slits all over the top and transfer the pie to the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes, and if the top browns fast, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Check to make sure the filling is set and carefully lift the parchment paper to check that the bottom is baked.

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Let cool completely on a rack, then sprinkle with orange blossom water, if you like, and with confectioner’s sugar before cutting and serving.

The Pie is better the next day!

 

 

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