Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens. It can be used most of the time interchangeably in many recipes calling for spinach. Chard has a sweeter taste than spinach. My preference is going with the chard or sometimes combining the two. You can use spinach in place of swiss chard in this dish, but you must drain any excess liquid before combining with the ricotta.
This savory pie is like a quiche – it is a great dish to serve for any meal. If you are intimidated by recipes that call for making your own pie crust have no fear. The beauty of making this dish is that you can scale back on the difficulty rating by using frozen or refrigerated pie crust. Making pie crust in a mixer is not complicated, you just need to watch it closely so that the dough is not over mixed. So why not give it a try.
Savory Ricotta, Swiss Chard, and Pancetta Pie
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
Makes 8 servings.
FOR THE PIE CRUST (or 1 frozen deep-dish pie crust)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick cold butter (4-ounces), cut in ½-inch cubes
3 teaspoons vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whiskey
1-2 tablespoons cold water
FOR THE FILLING
1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and sliced into ¼-inch pieces, leaves cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced shallots
3/4 cup diced pancetta
3 cups ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: 9-inch deep-dish pie dish or pan
MAKE THE CRUST: Combine the eggs, whiskey, and water in a small bowl using a fork and set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the flour, salt, and baking powder in mixer bowl and beat on low speed (speed 2 on a Kitchenaid) until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and shortening; continue beating on low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal and has some large fingernail size pieces of butter remaining, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg mixture and beat a few seconds, just until dough comes together.
Add additional water if dough seems too dry. Knead briefly until dough comes together into a ball. Flatten slightly, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
MAKE THE FILLING: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add shallots and pancetta, cook about 4 minutes, until onions are soft and lightly browned.
Stir in swiss chard, cover with a lid, and cook stirring frequently until leaves become soft and wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Pecorino, eggs, salt, and swiss chard mixture. Add black pepper to taste.
ASSEMBLE THE TART: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease pie pan with butter. Dust a flat surface or board with flour and roll out dough into a 13-inch circle 1/4 or 1/8-inch thick.
Gently lift the dough and fit into the pie dish. Trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold overhanging dough underneath itself so that it is even with the rim and crimp the edges.
BAKE THE PIE: Spoon filling into pie shell. Bake about 1 hour, until the edges are nicely browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.