If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers, you’re familiar with his notion that practice — some 10,000 hours of it — makes perfect. Not exactly perfect, but a master.
The same is true in the kitchen.
Until you practice, you’re more likely to cook by the book, less likely to try a recipe without every last ingredient. But as you spend more time chopping onions and cracking eggs, you learn how to think on your feet, until you get to the point where you can combine recipes or even create your own.
I’m not sure I’ve hit the 10,000 hour mark. But I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen. So I didn’t flinch when I decided to make a Savory Swiss Chard Tart from Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking with nary a chard leaf in sight. Don’t have the main ingredient? Don’t worry, be happy.
In all honesty, the little girl who came over for a play date wasn’t happy. She probably wishes I’d chucked the tart idea when I didn’t have any chard. She ended up eating Cheerios. What can I say? I didn’t want to send her home hungry. But everyone else had seconds.
A word about the recipe. If you call it Tomato and Greens Tart, people will assume it’s spinach. (Hey, it tastes like chicken. Must be chicken!) Which it could be. Or Swiss chard, or kale or any other leafy green you have on hand. Beet greens worked well for me, but substitutions are always welcome.
Tomato and Greens Tart
Inspired by a recipe for Savory Swiss Chard Tart in Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup of cooked greens (beet greens, Swiss chard, spinach, etc.)
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flours and 1/4 tsp salt then stir in water and oil until dough comes together. Using your fingertips, press the dough into a 9 1/2 inch tart pan (if yours is a little bigger or smaller, adjust accordingly). Spread with a thin layer of Dijon mustard and set aside. In a medium saute pan, heat a splash of oil then add 1 clove of minced garlic. After 30 seconds, add the tomato slices and cook a minute or two. Remove from pan and spread in a single layer over the crust. Repeat with more oil and remaining garlic, then add greens and saute until hot. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs with the cheese, then stir in the greens. Pour egg mixture over the tomatoes and bake for 40 minutes, covering if the top gets too brown.