Makes 4 to 6 Servings
Hands-On Time: 40 Minutes
Total Preparation Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Tomato salad with sprouts
½ recipe Basic Butter Pastry (see recipe below)
or store-bought pastry for a single crust pie
3/4 pound small boiling potatoes, such as Yukon gold or Red Bliss
1 medium onion
2 pounds cooking greens, such as chard, spinach, collards, mustard, or a mixture
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 oz Gruyére cheese
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 c ricotta
1/8 t nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1. Prepare the Basic Butter Pastry. Chill half while you make the filling. (Freeze the remaining half for another use.) Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups); place them in a medium saucepan. Add cold salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a knife.
3. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion (about 1 cup). Thoroughly rinse and spin dry the greens, remove the tough stems, and coarsely chop the leaves (about 24 cups). (If using chard, the stems will be tender; reserve them to stir-fry for another meal.)
4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until it has softened. Press in the garlic (about 2 teaspoons) and cook for 1 minute. Add half the greens and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until they have wilted. Remove the greens with tongs to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining half of the greens.
Return the first batch of greens to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes more, or until any liquid that collected in the skillet has evaporated.
5. When the potatoes are done, drain and mash them with a potato masher. Combine the potatoes and the greens mixture in a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
6. Meanwhile, roll out the pastry between lightly floured sheets of wax paper to make a 12-inch round; pat the edges of the pastry to make the round even. Fit the pastry into a 9-inch pie plate; press against the sides of the plate, allowing the excess to hang over the edges. Put the pie plate in the fridge while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
7. Grate the Gruyére (about ½ cup) and Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2/3 cup Microplane-grated or about 1/3 cup grated on the fine side of a box grater); fold the cheeses into the potato mixture along with the ricotta, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Lightly beat the eggs, reserve 1 tablespoon. Stir the rest of the eggs into the potato mixture and spoon the filling into the pastry-lined pie plate. Gently lift the overhanging pastry over the filling, pleating as necessary to make it fit. (It will make a 1- to 1 ½ inch border covering the edges of the filling, which will be uncovered in the center.) Brush the pastry with the reserved 1 tablespoon egg.
9. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes or until the filling is heated through and the pastry is golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
Basic Butter Pastry
Makes enough pastry for Two 9-Inch Pie Shells or 1 Double-Crust Pie
Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes
Total Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t table salt
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs yolks
1. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with chopping blade. Cut the butter into 1/8-inch-thick slices and add to the flour mixture. Pulse 10 to 12 times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Beat the yolks with 2 tablespoons ice water and add to the mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times, until a crumbly mixture forms. Press the mixture together to form a ball, adding more water, if necessary, to make it manageable.
3. You can immediately roll out the dough between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap or, if you have the time, chill the dough for 1 hour before rolling it out. That allows the gluten in the flour to relax, ensuring a tender crust.
4. Use the pastry as directed in a recipe or divide it in half, shape it into balls and flatten slightly. Wrap the flattened rounds tightly in freezer wrap and freeze until firm for later use. Use within 3 months.
Basic Butter Pastry Variations
Sweet variation: Add 1/4 cup sugar to the flour mixture and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract to the egg mixture.
Savory variation: Add 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, oregano, thyme, dill, or your favorite dried herb mixture to the flour mixture.
Not every potato is right for every recipe. The two main categories of potatoes are baking and boiling. Baking potatoes, also called russet potatoes (the most famous is the Idaho), are high in starch and come out fluffy and light when they are baked. They’re also great mashed. Given their starchy goodness, baking potatoes are the ones you want if you’re making gnocchi or if you need a thickener for soup.
But it you’re making a potato salad, you should reach for a boiling potato, like Red Bliss. Boiling potatoes hold their shape when they’re cooked, and they have the added benefit of a thin skin, which means there’s no need to peel them.
Some potatoes are considered all-purpose. The most famous of these is the Yukon gold, so named because of its naturally golden color, which somehow persuades us that it tastes like butter. They can be baked or boiled.
Having suggested that there is a perfect potato for every recipe, I hereby give you license to use any kind if the perfect potato isn’t at hand when you need it. I never met a potato I didn’t like.
When I am moving mountains of chopped ingredients I always reach for my giant Cake Lifter. It was designed to move delicate cake layers when frosting a cake but I rarely use it for that. The only problem is finding a space to store it. I tuck it “blade” side down in the side of my bread drawer. You can find cake lifters at many specialty kitchenware shops or at www.kingarthurflour.com.
Another favorite tool is a flexible fish spatula. I use it to turn everything from fish fillets, to meat cutlets to pancakes. But not all fish spatulas were created equal – they should have a flexible stainless steel top with a solid handle. Some of them are too wide, flimsy, and/or not flexible so shop around. I like the model from Williams Sonoma, simply called “traditional fish spatula,” which is $15.