Friday, June 25, 2010

Classics with a Twist. Part 2: Spinach Lasagna Tart

While contemplating classics for my main course at C.'s dinner party, lasagna instantly popped into my mind. What main dish could be more classic and more comforting than a hearty, cheesy lasagna? The inspiration for putting a twist on this all-time favorite came from this recipe from Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker for a Lasagna Tart, which in turn had come from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. A lasagna tart simply entails lasagna filling baked in a tart shell rather than in-between layers of pasta. How creative is that? Such an innovative twist that will provide that oh-so warm and comforting feeling that one gets after savoring one's favorite foods without being repetitive.
Needless to say, this dish was an absolute stunner. I especially loved the fresh flavor from the pesto. The crust was extremely tasty with the addition of basil. I plan to try the crust with part whole wheat flour next time to make it a little healthier; plus, I think the nutty flavor will add a nice touch. I am also going to experiment with various fillings; the possibilities are endless :)

Spinach Lasagna Tart:(Crust recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)
For Spinach Mixture:
1 16 oz. bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove some of the water
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste, about 1/2 tsp.
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tbsp. cold butter), cubed and chilled (I stuck it in the freezer for about 30 minutes)
1 tsp. dired basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 cups parmesean cheese, grated
1 tsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. ice water
Pesto Sauce:
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup parmesean cheese, shredded
Bechamel Sauce:
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
sliced fresh mozzarella cheese to cover the top, about 3/4 cup total
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. For the crust, pulse garlic and basil in the food processor until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the parmesean cheese, and pulse to combine. Add the flour, salt, and butter, and quickly pulse the mixture about 25 times. Add the ice water in a few, quick extra pulses. Pinch the mixture together between two fingers to make sure it sticks together to form a dough.Transfer the dough to a 9.5" tart pan with a removable bottom, and press it across the pan and up the sides evenly with your hands. Let the crust chill for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator(I actually left it overnight).
When you want to prepare the actual tart, take the crust out of the refrigerator and prick it with a fork a few times around. Cover the shell with parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights. Place it on a baking sheet, and put the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, and then remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove, and let the shell cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, prepare the spinach mixture. Heat olive oil in a skillet, lower heat to medium-low, and add the chopped garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until it just begins to brown. Add the oregano, and cook for 1 minute. Then, add the chopped spinach, and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add salt and pepper, and cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat.
For the bechamel, melt butter over low heat in a pot. Do not let it brown. Add the flour, and cook over medium-low heat for about 4-5 minutes, until the roux turns a light golden brown and the rawness of the flour is cooked out. Gradually add in the milk, whisking after each addition. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the sauce begins to simmer. Do not let it boil. At this point, add the thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
For the pesto, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Turn on the processor, and drizzle in the olive oil gradually until the pesto is ready.
To assemble the tart, first season the ricotta with a little salt and a dash of pepper. Spead this ricotta evenly on the bottom of the tart shell. Then, spread the pesto over the ricotta layer.
Then, spread the spinach saute evenly over the pesto layer.
Spread the bechamel evenly over the spinach layer. Top with the fresh mozzarella slices, spreading evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. The mozzarella will be melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven, and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot.

6 comments:

Swathi said...

Ameya,

This tart is really good. Indeed it is twist with classic. Nice you used spinach.

Rachana said...

Thats exactly what I want now :-) Looks super delicious!

Priya said...

Sluppp!!!tart looks great and very cheesy..

Umm Mymoonah said...

Wow! Very temting and yummy looking tart, very nice twist. First time here, fabulous lookig blog, following you:-)

Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker said...

Love your adaptation, it looks and sounds delicious!

Sushma Mallya said...

looks lovely...

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