The spring season brings warmer temperatures that feed our souls, especially for those of us who have endured the frozen climes for what seems like a winter season with no end in sight.
At our casa, spring is when the trees are in full floral bloom and the animals are preparing their homes for their new family members soon to come and the tropical flower buds are visible for miles.
It is a renewal, a time to revive the mind, sit outdoors and feel the warmth of the sun while you enjoy food and wine al fresco after many long weeks of grey skies and a chill in your bones.
This recipe for me celebrates spring and the new season’s gifts in a most fabulous way.
It is a breakfast for kings and queens (and for even the loyal subjects), a late afternoon meal with a bottle of wine, cheese and fruit or even a late dinner with a wonderful spring salad of fresh peas and fresh buttery greens.
artichoke & potato tarte
2 boxes frozen artichoke hearts; thawed and drained well
1 small vidalia sweet onion, sliced thinly
2-3 garlic cloves peeled and cut into chunks
homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock (good quality store bought works well but use the unsalted variety)
fresh flat leaf parsley
grated parmigiano cheese
3 to 4 eggs
approx. 2 to 2 1/2 cups or more hash brown cut raw potatoes (i prefer to shred my own, but you can also purchase the already shredded variety at your grocer)
1-2 oven cooked bacon slices; drained well
Using a colander over a large deep bowl, drain and squeeze the excess water from the shredded potatoes and place them in a clean dishrag to dry them well. Once most of the water is removed; add the potatoes to the bowl and season lightly with sea salt and pepper. Add a healthy amount of grated parmigiano cheese to taste (approx. 1 to 1 1/2 cups to your taste); blend well.
Add a good handful or more of fresh chopped parsley leaves and stalks; crumble the bacon slices and blend everything until well mixed. Using a fork, add one egg to the mixture and very gently mix into the potato mixture until all is soft and the potatoes start to stick together a bit.
Using a pie or quiche plate or metal tin; grease the bottom and sides throughly. Take the potato mixture and add to the pie plate and being to press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the plate to form a crust like base. Try to make the sides as even as possible when pressing, do not leave any gaps in the sides or bottom of the pie plate.
In a preheated oven set to 375 to 400 degrees; set the potato crust mixture in the middle rack of the oven and let bake until very lightly golden brown; approx. 18-20 minutes or so depending on your oven.
While the potato crust is baking; in a medium deep pan, drizzle a healthy amount of olive oil and add the chucks of garlic and slices of onion. Saute on medium high heat until soft and fragrant (do NOT fry); stirring often and watch to not allow the onion and garlic to brown (adjust the heat as needed.)
Once softened; add the drained artichokes to the mixture and mix well; let cook slightly until the artichokes begin to soften. Add a healthy amount of stock about 2 cups or so and set the heat to medium high and let the artichokes cook until the liquids start to reduce a bit and the artichokes are very soft to the bite.
Season the cooked artichokes lightly with sea salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Drain the artichokes through a sieve and retain the left over stock for future use (i love to cook risotto in this left over stock, delicious!)
Once the liquids are well drained add about 2/3 of the artichoke mixture to a large bowl and add a good handful of chopped fresh parsley and a small handful of the grated parmigiano.
Blend this well and once they are completely cooled add in the 2 eggs and mix well until evenly blended.
Now add the artichoke mixture as a filling to the semi-cooked potato crust. Spread the mixture evenly to the edges of the crust; leaving bout 1/2 inch to 1 inch of crust showing. take the remaining artichokes and add a few pieces to the top of the mixture and place inside a preheated 375 degree oven on the middle rack to finish baking.
Bake the tarte until the center begins to firm up and the edges of the potato crust begin to crisp and get very brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to come to room temperature and serve immediately with plenty of wine to share and your choice of side dishes.
Note: Photography by Annette Venditti