Tuesday, June 7, 2011

“Everything but the Kitchen Sink”

Last week, I worked myself into a frenzy over what I would prepare for dinner for my six-year old son and me. We were about to go away for the weekend, Daddy was on a business trip and I really didn’t want to go to the grocery store. Somehow I never remember my mother having this problem. She always had plenty of food on hand and things would either go bad or she would make multiple dishes and freeze them. I take a different approach and generally buy groceries one week at a time. I find this helps reduce waste and allows me to stick to a budget.

I must have had a puzzled look as I starred at several medium-sized white onions, a pint of cherry tomatoes and some bananas on my kitchen countertop. I opened up the fridge and found spinach, Hannaford’s low-fat Ricotta, several eggs, Parmesan cheese, two carrots, a pint of strawberries, a gallon or so of 2% milk and half a loaf of whole wheat bread. In the freezer: one sheet of puff pastry, spicy Italian sausage, frozen berries and bacon.

The trick was to make something out of all of this that my son might actually like and that would qualify as dinner. The other challenge was to make a dish based from memory and not refer to any books. What I came up with was a Ricotta and Tomato Tart I’d seen somewhere, so I figured I’d attempt a variation of this with a simple Spinach Ricotta Tart. Here goes nothing:

Spinach Ricotta Tart with Cherry Tomatoes.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or 3 to 4 as dinner.

2 cups of part skim Ricotta cheese. (My favorite brands for this are Hannaford’s or Sorrento.)

1 large egg

2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

3 oz. baby spinach

salt and pepper to taste

Grated nutmeg (Fresh nutmeg is quite potent so use cautiously!)

1 sheet of Puff Pastry

1 pint of cherry tomatoes halved

Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 375˚.

Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. You want it pliable en ough to roll it out. In your food processor, pulse the ricotta, spinach, egg and parmesan cheese. Put the cheese and spinach mixture into the refrigerator while you are rolling out the puff pastry to allow it to set up.

Roll out the puff pastry to approx. 12” x 20”. Place the pastry on your buttered sheet pan (or on a silpat baking sheet) and then spread your ricotta mixture in the center of your pastry. Leave about an inch border around your ricotta mixture. Drop the cherry tomatoes onto the ricotta mixture and then drizzle it with olive oil.

Bake for 35 minutes turning the pan once to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

Variations: Thinly slice rounds of zucchini and summer squash and layer them on top of the ricotta mixture.

I hope this dish worked for you as well as it did for my son and me.  As always, I encourage you to post your variations or ideas based on this dish.  I'm always interested in feedback from fellow foodies (foodback?) on my posts.  :-)


  1. You clever thing! This looks deee-licious.I love spinach. BTW I am eating everything again, so get ready. Just trying to avoid too much sugar. :)

  2. Love it! Glad to have the recipe and pics in front of me - and I even have some puff pastry in the fridge!

  3. Glad you like it. Stay tuned, I'm on a roll. ;-)