As promised earlier this week, here’s my first edition of telling you what I’m eating on Wednesday nights, now officially titled “Denglish Dines” (a title not approved of by the boyfriend, who, when I ran the name by him, only whined “Lori, why does everything have to be alliterative with you?” Dear, don’t dispute that my diction is downright my decision, and your dissension only makes me more determined). Alternatively, depending on how you feel about alliteration, this could be titled, “Why I’m Not a Food Writer.”
So, Beth came over, which was a nice change from no one coming over ever, and we attempted a recipe found at The Pioneer Woman, Savory Tomato and Feta Crostata, which is fancy-speak for girly pizza.
Essentially, it’s a flour and basil crust, filled with cottage cheese, feta, egg, and oregano, and topped with tomatoes “layered in concentric circles,” “concentric” obviously being the operative term. It was mediocre, we both decided; better than the rice we enjoy every other night of the week, but not exactly the aromatic Mediterranean dish suggestive of Grecian sunshine and sea breezes we were hoping for. The flavors just weren’t coaxed out to their full potential: the fresh basil in the crust was lost in a dusty poof of flour; the cheeses didn’t pack a punch. “Needs onion,” I mumbled through a mouthful, but that’s not a critique unique to this recipe, it’s just what I say about most foods.
By no means a failure, but my favorite bit may have been discovering that the only way to buy basil at my grocery store is in a little pot, so I walked the whole way back to my house with my nose buried in the basil pot. So earthy! So alive! So refreshing, like the first whiff upon walking into Ozark Natural Foods! Such a world away from the cold, gray German winter, so suggestive of Grecian sunshine and sea breezes!
Wait, did I say the best bit was the basil pot? I take that back, for the best bit was watching Sense and Sensibility during the chilling/cooking/cooling periods this recipe calls for (what a diva a crust can be), and by “watching Sense and Sensibility,” I clearly mean googling pictures of the guy who plays Willoughby, because really.
Also, he’s married to Emma Thompson, which makes me love her and hate her all the more. They even met on the set. I bet HE didn’t mind that Sense and Sensibility is alliterative.
Anyway, tonight’s recipe is found below, and remember, it’s best when served with an unseasonal fruit salad (I just couldn’t resist those strawberries), complemented with a markedly mediocre wine, and followed by a handful of cheap sugar wafers.
SAVORY TOMATO AND FETA CROSTATA
- FOR THE CRUST:
- 1 cup Packed Basil Leaves
- 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
- ½ teaspoons Salt
- ½ cups Butter
- 2 Tablespoons To 3 Tablespoons Of Ice-cold Water
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 8 ounces, weight Low-fat Cottage Cheese (drained In A Fine Mesh Strainer 1 Hour To Overnight)
- 4 ounces, weight Light Feta Cheese, Finely Crumbled
- 1 whole Egg, Lightly Beaten
- ½ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 whole Tomatoes, Sliced 1/4-inch Thick
- Sea Salt, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano, Finely Minced
To prepare the crust: Chop the basil leaves, then add them to a small bowl of a food processor and pulse until thoroughly minced. Set aside.
In the large bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add minced basil and continue to pulse until basil is uniformly distributed and dough just begins to show signs of sticking together. With machine running, add ice water, one tablespoonful at a time, until dough clumps together. The dough should take on a uniform green color as the basil is moistened and incorporated into the dough. Gather dough together and wrap in plastic wrap, flattening it into a 1/2-inch thick disc. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Once it’s chilled, roll dough out between layers of plastic wrap, then transfer to a glass or ceramic baking dish, crimping edges decoratively. Bake for 8 minutes at 450 F. Check during baking to press down any air bubbles that might form under the crust. Let crust cool (about 15 minutes), and reduce oven temperature to 400 F.
While the crust is cooling, prepare the feta filling by mixing together the cottage cheese, feta, egg, and freshly-ground black pepper. Slice the tomatoes, sprinkle the slices with salt, and let them sit for a few minutes to draw out some of the moisture. Pat tomato slices dry with paper toweling.
Spread feta mixture evenly over the crust, then sprinkle with oregano. Layer tomato slices on top of the feta mixture in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge, and then sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit more sea salt. Bake at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes. Let crostata cool slightly (about 30 minutes) to let juices redistribute and the cheese filling to set before slicing and serving.