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Want a great way to get more greens in your diet? Try a piece of this savory, cheesy tart — you won’t even notice all the vitamins sneaking in. This recipe won’t earn you any points if you’re supposed to be sticking to a low-cholesterol diet, but if you give a slice to your cardiologist, you’ll have a friend for life. (That’s planning ahead. :)

Ham and Chard Tart
Makes 12″x15″ tart, 8 generous servings

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 jumbo red onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large bunch chard (about 12 oz.), washed and roughly chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram (or Major Ram, as we call it in my house)
1/2 tsp. cracked brown mustard seed (optional, see Recipe Notes below)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt (or to taste, use 1-1/2 tsp. if using bacon)
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg (optional, but trust me)
2 c. creme fraiche (if not available, substitute all-natural sour cream)
5 oz. freshly grated Parmesan (or any hard, aged cheese)
3 large eggs
8 oz. ham or cooked bacon, roughly chopped
Your favorite pie crust dough, enough for two 9″ crusts (I like this recipe from King Arthur Flour or Immaculate Baking Co.’s refrigerated pie crust dough)
12″x15″x1″-deep baking sheet

Roll pie crust dough into rectangle roughly 13″x16″ and place in lightly buttered baking sheet. (Quick tip: I find it much easier to roll my pastry out between two sheets of parchment paper.) Pinch edges to form a small lip, prick bottom of pastry all over with fork (to keep it from bubbling up during baking), and place crust in freezer for 30 minutes. This step chills the fat in your pastry dough and makes for an extra tender, flaky crust.

Preheat oven to 375F. While tart crust is in the freezer, heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat, then add onions. Cook 7-8 minutes, until onions are translucent but not browned. Add garlic and stir, then chopped chard. You may need to add it in batches and allow it to wilt before adding more so that it will all fit in your pan. Turn up heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes, then add 1 tsp. of the coarse sea salt and the thyme, basil, marjoram, and mustard seed. Stir well and allow to cook for 5-6 minutes more, or until chard and onions are tender. Turn off heat and set aside.

Place chilled tart crust in oven and bake for 7-8 minutes, just until golden. (This keeps the crust from getting soggy later.) While it’s baking, get out a mixing bowl and whisk together the eggs, creme fraiche, remaining salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 4 oz. of the cheese. When tart crust comes out of the oven, spread cooked chard and onion mixture across bottom evenly. Sprinkle over chopped ham/bacon, then pour over egg mixture — it will be full, but it will fit, I promise. Sprinkle remaining ounce of grated cheese over top of tart. You can also add another few shakes of dried thyme if you’re feeling artistic. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let the tart cool and filling set up for about 10-15 minutes, then cut into squares. I like this served with a simple side salad of mixed greens or spinach dressed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. It needs a little acid on the side to compliment the richness of the tart. (Plus that’s more greens — yay, you!)

Recipe Notes + Tips:
Once again I task you with obtaining an unusual ingredient, and once again I guarantee it’s worth it! :) I first discovered brown mustard seed when I started experimenting with Indian cooking, and it quickly became a favorite ingredient of mine across the board. Just a little gives dishes savory, nutty depth. I love it with anything cheesy, veggies of all sorts, and roasted chicken, beef, and salmon. I never make a batch of stock without it, and it works in just about any soup or stew.

I buy crushed brown mustard seed on-line from the Spice House, and they are hands-down my favorite source of spices and herbs. Their prices are often better than the grocery store, and their products are always superior.

This recipe is an adaptation of the Italian Ham and Spinach Tart from Jamie Oliver’s 2007 cookbook, Jamie At Home. You won’t find a better guide to seasonal cooking, and I’ve made just about everything in the book with wonderful results. If you’re looking for formal, precise cooking instructions, he may not be your man, but I personally enjoy directions like “preheat your oven to full whack” and “put a glug of oil in the pan.” :)

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