My friend Ellie recently went apple picking somewhere along the Hudson, and since my Saturday Pilates class conflicted with the timing of the day trip, I asked for a few apples and promised a homemade baked goody in return for the fruit. Initially I was going to try my hand at something sweet, but was having visions of something combining apples and goat cheese. A little Googling later, I came across this recipe on a site from the UK that sounded pretty heavenly, although described using the metric system. So, I present to you my version of this savory treat, which is in many ways more a quiche than a tart, due to the eggs and cream. But, it's delicious, and a great warm treat for a cold November day.
Goat Cheese, Spinach and Apple Tart
makes one 10" pie
2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
6 to 8 tbsp ice water
Before starting this endeavour, make sure you have a bit of time to dedicate to this process. This is a good project when you are multi-tasking other chores around the house, and certainly make dough well ahead of time since it needs at least an hour after combined to hang out in the fridge getting nice and cold.
First, dice the butter into a bowl or tupperware container and stick into the freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes, up to an hour. (A minimum of 15 minutes is fine though.) Then in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Get the ice water ready; a few ice cubes in a bowl of cold tap water is good. Now, add the ice pieces to the flour mixture and using a dough cutter, begin to incorporate the butter into the flour. You should work fairly fast, as the key to success here is allowing the butter to stay as cold as possible.
When you've made small pea-sized pieces of buttery dough, still large enough to see the butter, but fairly well incorporated with the flour, begin to add the water, one tablespoon at a time. I used about 7 tablespoons, maybe 8, to make the most recent dough. (And if you're not making a savory tart, omit the nutmeg.)
Combine the dough into two large balls and flatten into a disc about 4 - 5 inches in diameter. Cover in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least one hour, or overnight.
This makes enough dough for two tarts, or one pie with a crust on top. So now you can make another tart or pie later on! Just keep the second one in the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge a few days before you're going to use it.
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb spinach, thoroughly washed and stems discarded
1 clove garlic
1 dash red pepper flakes
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into thin slices
4 - 6 oz. goat cheese
150 ml (about 2/3 cup) cream (I used light cream, you could use heavy cream)
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh marjoram (I used 1 tsp dried)
4 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper
If your dough has been in the fridge for more a night, allow it to come to room temperature, about an hour. You only need half of the aforementioned dough recipe to make the crust for this tart. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
On a floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle, about 12" in diameter. Put in a 10" pie pan, cover with parchment paper and 1 lb of beans, and bake for 15 minutes. After cooking, remove parchment and beans and allow to cool for a bit (which will happen as you prepare the rest of the filling).
Once the crust gets into the oven, you can get started on the filling, washing and preparing the spinach for cooking, if you haven't already.
In a medium-sized pan, gently heat 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic, as well as a few red pepper flakes. Add the spinach and wilt, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, and drain in a sieve. Once spinach has cooled a bit, you'll want to press the spinach through the sieve to remove as much excess water as possible.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 eggs. Crumble in the goat cheese, then add the cream and whisk together. Add the parsley and marjoram.
The crust should be well cooled at this point, so now's a good time to peel and core the apples, slicing them into thin slices and placing on the bottom of the crust (should be about 2 layers of thinly sliced apples).
When the spinach has cooled a fair amount, use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid before adding to the cream and egg mixture.
Add the spring onions to the spinach-cream-egg mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture over the apples into the crust.
Bake in an oven heated to 350 F for 15 minutes.
Makes one 10" pie, 8 small slices or 6 larger slices.