Swiss Chard Tourte from Nice (Tourte de Blettes)
Swiss Chard Tourte strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory. Sweet currants, apples, and brandy pair surprisingly well with savory Swiss chard, cheese, and pine nuts. This Niçoise specialty is often served as dessert, with powdered sugar sifted over the top, but we made our version slightly more savory. Served warm, our Tourte makes a delicious vegetarian main course or lovely accompaniment to grilled meats. When cold, a light sifting of powdered sugar tastes surprisingly great on the savory Tourte. Reserve chard stems for Dip of Swiss Chard Stalks and Tahini.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
3/4 cup. cold butter, cubed
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. brandy
1/3 cup (2 oz) dried currants
2 1/2 lbs Swiss chard, stems removed and reserved for other use
2 green apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (be careful, they burn easily)
1/2 cup grated cheese, comté or Parmigiano Reggiano are good choices
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
Powdered sugar (optional)
Make Crust Dough: Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest in food processor. Add cold butter and pulse until butter is mostly combined with flour, but a few pea-sized pieces remain. (You can also cut butter into flour with two knives or a pastry blender.) Add egg, egg yolk, and lemon juice, and pulse to combine. If dough is too dry, add 1 Tbsp. ice cold water. Dump dough out onto piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, cut in half, and shape into two disks. Cover disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate while making filling. (Dough can be made ahead several days, or may also be frozen for several months and thawed when ready to use.)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Make Filling: Stir brandy and currants together in small bowl to soak while assembling filling.
In large pot of boiling salted water, blanch half of Swiss chard leaves for 30-60 seconds, then remove with slotted spoon to bowl of cold water. Put leaves in colander to drain. Repeat with remaining chard leaves. Transfer leaves to dish towel, wrap, and wring over sink to remove as much water as you can from leaves. (Be aware chard might stain dish towel.)
Chop Swiss chard leaves. Transfer to large bowl, and add apples, lemon zest, eggs, pine nuts, cheese, currants, brandy, salt, and freshly grated black pepper. Stir to combine.
Assemble Tourte: Take dough from refrigerator. Roll one disk on well-floured surface into 12″ circle about 1/8″ thick. Lay dough gently over 10″ x 2″ pie or quiche pan. Press dough into bottom and sides of pan.
Add filling to Tourte. Roll out remaining dough, lay over filling, and crimp edges of bottom and top crusts together, making airtight seal. Make a few slits in top crust to let air escape, and decorate top crust with extra dough scraps.
Combine 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Lightly brush Tourte with egg wash to ensure browning.
Bake Tourte on middle rack of oven for 50-55 minutes. When top is nicely browned and filling is bubbling, remove from oven. Make sure to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
To serve as a dessert, sift powdered sugar over Tourte’s top. I prefer to put sugar on each piece as it’s served, both to keep sugar from melting on top of Tourte and to allow each eater to decide if they want a sugared top.