Summer weather has officially hit the Southern California region. Usually May through June, San Diego County experiences a phenomenon we like to call May Gray and June Gloom. The weather at that time is in the mid to high 60’s. Though once July hits, it actually starts warming up and we had a bit of a heat wave not too long ago. Needless to say, who wants to sit by a stove or oven all night making a hot dinner for an already warm evening?
Last week I had made some homemade ricotta, so I needed to use it up before it went bad. I decided to use it in this tomato ricotta pie with garlic herb crust. It’s such a simple dish to make and the flavors go wonderful together. It really is the perfect dish for a summer evening. I’ve heard it also goes well with a glass of white wine.
The crust can be made the day before, but make sure to keep it covered overnight so it maintains it’s flakiness. I made my crust the same day that I used it. The crust does call for ice cold water to bind the flour, cold butter, and herbs together, but I like to use ice cold vodka. It bakes out of the crust so you don’t taste it and it helps make an extra flaky crust. Just ask Christopher Kimball of Milk Street Kitchen. I also used big juicy heirloom tomatoes, but feel free to use the tomatoes you have on hand, just make sure that their nice and ripe so they’ll be juicy.
TOMATO RICOTTA PIE WITH GARLIC HERB CRUST
Serves: 6 to 8
For the crust:
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1¼ cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 tbsp. (4 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp. very cold water
For the filling:
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim tastes best)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2-3 tsp. minced fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3-4 tbsp. milk, if needed
- 2 large ripe heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling (I used Poggio Amorelli’s EVO)
To make the crust, combine the garlic and basil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely minced, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the flour and salt and pepper to taste and pulse again to combine. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mince the garlic and basil as well as you can and then stir into the flour mixture. It will work just fine). Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the largest butter pieces are the size of peas. Add in the water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Remove from the bowl, form into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 1-2 hours, until firm.
Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a flat round sheet about 12 inches in diameter, or large enough to fully line a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer to the pie plate, trimming away any excess at the edges and crimping the dough to create a fluted edge. Transfer the pie plate to the freezer and chill 30 minutes, until firm.
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line the chilled pie shell with aluminum foil, making sure all edges of the crust are fully covered. Fill the pie shell with baking beads to weigh the crust down (dry beans or rice also work). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and baking beads, return the pie shell to the oven and continue to bake until the crust is golden and fully set, about 10-12 minutes more. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.
In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, garlic, and herbs. Stir together until evenly combined. To give the ricotta a smoother texture (if needed), stir in 3-4 tablespoons of milk until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the ricotta into the pie shell in an even layer. Layer the tomato slices on top of the ricotta, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional minced basil. Slice with a sharp knife and serve immediately.
Recipe by Everyday Annie