Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ricotta Tart with Vermicelli Pasta

Snow came down on this last weekend in October. And I don't know what it is this year, but I really like it! After having spent two days at a yoga workshop, for me, this very rich and sweet Italian tart was just the thing on Sunday evening! Who said that carbs are a bad thing anyway?!

I had bookmarked this recipe a long time ago because I always thought that it sounded interesting. Pasta the sweet way - something else for a change, and it really works. As I said, the tart is rather heavy, so cut into small pieces. You can alway have a second one if need be...

(from: Pasta Passion by Ursula Ferrigno)

for the pastry:
225g butter, soft
175g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
450g plain flour, some more for dusting

for the filling:
450g ricotta cheese
115g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp orange water (you can also use orange juice)
115g candied orange or mixed peel
1 free-range egg, separated
550ml milk
175g vermicelli
a large pinch of salt
icing sugar, for dusting

For the pastry put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together. Add the egg yolks and then gradually add the flour, mixing well to make a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. To make the filling, put the ricotta, sugar (reserving 2 tablespoons), cinnamon, half a lemon zest, the lemon juice, the orange flower water, candied peel and the egg yolk in a bowl and beat together.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil. Add the vermicelli and the remaining sugar and lemon zest with the salt and simmer gently until the vermicelli have absorbed nearly all the milk.

While it is still warm, blend the pasta carefully into the ricotta mixture. Whisk the egg white until it just holds its shape, then fold into the mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and use two thirds of it to line a 28cm diameter tart tin. Ferrigno writes that it is a "very short pastry" and that it might tear readily. The dough really isn't easy to work with, but you can patch it together easily.

Add the ricotta filling. Ferrigno uses the other third of the dough to cut it into stripes an to arrange the strips in a lattice pattern over the top of the tart. I decided to cut out little butterflies instead because I simply didn't manage to roll the dough out into large enough disks to cut into long strips.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until golden. Dust with icing sugar before serving. You can eat it warm or cold. I liked it a lot when it was still a little warm.

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