Creekside Dinner and the Hit of the Party

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

For a casual dinner gathering in the full swing of summer, I finally got to create again with my very dear and longtime friends, Gail Greco and Tom Bagley, in their luxurious home at the convergence of 3 creeks (Solitude, Broad and Edge Creeks) in St. Michaels.

Gail Greco, leaning on the table and her husband, Tom Bagley with his camera, chat with the guests.

Gail and I have been cooking together for at least 22 years-often for business and sometimes just plain fun. When it’s business, her husband, Tom Bagley, is our professional photographer. They are a team!

We were in the midst of dinner prep and I hoped we could make use of the harvest of basil and red and yellow bell peppers-more specifically in a tart, with a ricotta filling. We ad libbed a recipe from crust to topping, comparing notes along the way and came up with standard Mediterranean flavors in a more unique crunchy crust with ground almonds (almond meal) and Parmesan. Truly divine it was…everyone said as they oohed and awed!

Perfect “fire it up” for my grilling gig the following day at St. Michaels FreshFarm Markeet.

Notice the double skewers for easy grilling

  • Menu
  • Roasted Red and Yellow Pepper Tart
  • Grilled Shrimp
  • Farmers Market Salad
  • Garlic Green Beans
  • Kentucky Corn Pudding
  • Individual Cheesecakes with Fruit and Pulled Sugar

 

Roasted Red and Yellow Pepper Tart

Serves 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this savory version, roasted bell peppers, pesto and a creamy ricotta mixture make for an easy, Mediterranean-inspired main or side dish that also travels well.

The almond meal can be found  at Whole Foods and Trader Joes in our area. All of the components, peppers, dough, filling and pesto can be made up to 1 day in advance. Just assemble when ready to bake. A 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom is perfect for these measurements.

For the peppers:

  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pre-made pesto

Roast the peppers:

Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the top third of the oven. Place the peppers directly on the rack. Roast, turning occasionally, until the peppers blacken and blister on all sides, about 20 minutes.

Remove the peppers and place in a clean paper bag; close tightly. After about 30 minutes, peel and remove all charred skin. Slice into 1/2-inch-thick strips , transfer to a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

For the dough:

Place the flour, almond meal, parmesan and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times to combine. Scatter the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Drizzle the ice water evenly over the flour mixture. Add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough just holds together in your hand.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a disk, place in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out to about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom and pat into the bottom edges and around the sides of the pan; Trim any excess dough. Cover the tart shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make the filling:

Place the ricotta, cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix together.

When the tart shell is ready, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Spread the pesto in the bottom of the tart. Top with the ricotta mixture and spread it into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the tart temporarily from the oven and arrange the roasted pepper slices around the top outer third of the filling. Return the tart (on the baking sheet) to the oven and bake 10 more minutes. Remove the tart from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

When slightly warm, remove the ring of the tart pan and place on a platter. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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