Saturday, February 16, 2008

Crostata Invernale/Winter Crostata

I haven't posted much lately, not even my "Passionate Mondays". I've been juggling a lot of things, multi-tasking all day long, leaving myself with almost no quiet or alone time, therefore I haven't wanted to sacrifice one extra minute to "doing" anything else. This weekend is the first weekend in a long time in which I can pretty much do what I want. Yahoo! I started this morning with a walk on the beach with Stefania Belli, owner of La Lingua La Vita in Todi, Umbria. I wrote about her school in a recent post. My pre-cappuccino Italian stumbled roughly off my tongue while we played with our friend Christina's dog. Then we went for cornetti (Italian croissants) and cappuccini at my favorite cafe' in Long Beach - Aroma di Roma. That is what I call a beautiful morning!

Sometimes I find after being so busy, that on weekends like this I almost don't know what to do with myself. I tend to distract myself with house busy-ness - baking, laundry, paying bills, etc. Then as Saturday night is approaching I realize that I haven't really done anything for myself.

None of this relates to what I sat down to write about - crostata! Crostata is Itaian for Tart - savory or sweet. I like making a meal, especially in the winter, of a savory crostata, with mixed green salad on the side. The toppings and/or fillings for a crostata are only limited by your imagination. Use this recipe as a base and experiment. I also like denser cheeses like emmentaler, gruyere or mozzarella with tomatoes in the summer. You can try using any kind of cooked greens or asparagus with this ricotta filling, or roasted red peppers, eggplant or sundried tomatoes. I created this tart specifically for cold nights with ingredients that are readily available in the winter - ricotta, parmagiano, leeks, prosciutto and artichoke hearts. Hence my name for it:

Crostata Invernale/Winter Crostata
Makes two 7-9" crostatas
Serves 4 as a main course, or 8 as an appetizer

1 3/4 - 2 cups white flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together. They blend easily and should come together in about one minute. Split the dough into two disks, wrap in wax paper and chill for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile cut 4 medium-large leeks (white and light green parts only) lengthwise in half and clean well of all dirt. Dry and chop finely across, in half-circles.

Prosciutto - you can either buy some thick slices and chop, or if your store sells the prosciutto ends you can use those. Either way, chop into little chunks enough for 1 1/2 - 2 cups.

Sautee leeks and prosciutto together with some olive oil until leeks become tender, about 10-15 minutes.
While the leeks and prosciutto are cooking, drain, rinse and pat dry one jar of marinated, quartered artichoke hearts. Set aside.
Blend about 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta with about 1/2 cup finely grated Parmagianno Reggiano, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Roll out each disk of dough on a floured surface to about 1/8" thick. Transfer to a baking sheet and make free form edges. (If you are using these for appetizers, you could form the dough into a square instead so that small pieces can be cut in squares when done.)
Spread ricotta mixture on each crostata evenly. On top of that distribute the leek and prosciutto mixture. On top of that, place artichoke hearts.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
These can be sliced like pizza for entrees, or in little pieces for appetizers.

Don't forget to enjoy with a nice glass of wine - and with this you could drink just about any type you like. Buon appetito!

Don't forget your entries for Apples & Thyme are due by February 20th. Being that I am extra busy, a few days later won't matter this month! You can go here for more details.


M&Ms... said...

I would have loved your kind of morning after the last few weeks :)
Must try the Crostata with vergetarian's been cold in London so this would be ideal!

Jannis said...

I wish I lived next door to you!

african vanielje said...

Jeni this is my perfect meal. I love the fact that it is so versatile as I tend to do exactly that. Adapt a recipe to what I have in my pantry. I will have to give this a go this week as I particularly want to try our that olive oil pastry. Glad you finally got at least a lovely morning to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeni! Everyone seems to be making crostata and I love them all. Yours is very nice indeed :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Jeni, You and I are on the same wave length, cause I just made a Crosata too and posted it.Love all your ingredients! That walk along the beach sounds pretty darn good!!

Ivy said...

These look so good. Must try them soon. I envy those walks on the . Summer seems so far away :-)

Toni said...

I love savory tarts, and this one looks fabulous! What a great post to discover your blog with!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Ooooh, tremendous. And some of my most favourite ingredients, too. Must try soon...

The Passionate Palate said...

M&Ms - Oh, yes, vegetarian fillings would be perfect for a cold London evening.

Jannis - ditto!

AV - I like trying to substitute olive oil for butter where I can - of course it doesn't always work.

Maryann - They're so easy I understand why everyone wants to make them!

PIC - I just checked out your crostata and it looks fabulous.

Ivy - yes, we are spoiled with excellent weather in So. Cal.

Toni - welcome! I am glad you found me. I just looked at your blog too and it looks wonderful.

Aforkful - glad you liked it!!!