The Engineer gave me an autographed copy of Ashley Rodriguez’s great book Date Night In. It chronicles a year of meals she made for her husband on their date night – on which they would put the kids to bed early, dress up and have a fancy dinner in their own home, to reconnect without spending too much money. There are stories of the events around each date, and what I really like is that the recipes are presented as menus, so you don’t have to figure out what side dish can be made at the same time as what main dish or what goes well together (assuming you want to make a full menu). I read through it and bookmarked several recipes. The herb-butter roasted chicken with maple coriander roasted carrots was really good, but this bacon and leek tart with ricotta custard was fantastic. The Engineer even called it one of his favorite tarts ever and said that he would eat it endlessly. In the book, it’s served with an apple, grape, blue cheese and endive salad on the side, but I think any green salad would be nice, too.
For the crust
1 cup (140 g.) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 oz. (90 g., or about ¾ cup packed) parmesan, freshly grated
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tbsp. ice-cold water
For the filling
1 cup lactose-free ricotta
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 oz. (60 g., or about ½ cup packed) parmesan, freshly grated
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
4 strips bacon, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced 1/8-inch thick (white and light green parts only)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives (and/or a handful of fresh arugula)
For the crust
Preheat oven to 375 °F.
Combine the flour, salt, and parmesan in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and then pulse quickly about 20 times, or until the mixture has a sandy texture.
With a few more pulses, blend in the ice-cold water. The dough should stick together when you pinch it between two fingers.
Pour the crumbly dough into a 14”x4” rectangular tart pan or a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough firmly up the sides of the pan, then press the bottom to form a uniform base.
Chill for 15 minutes.
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and poke it a few times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart pan onto the oven’s middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes and then use a fork to poke any areas that may be bubbling up. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
For the filling
While the crust chills, prepare the filling. Stir together the ricotta, egg, garlic, thyme, pepper, salt, parmesan, and nutmeg until well combined.
While the crust bakes, sauté the bacon on medium heat in a medium skillet; stir often, until brown around the edges and just starting to crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Reduce the heat to low. Add the leeks to the pan with the cooked bacon and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often and separating the leeks, until they are soft and lightly browned in parts.
Pour the ricotta filling into the par-baked tart crust. Top with the bacon and leek mixture. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the custard is slightly puffed and golden around the edges.
Let the tart cool in the pan for 15 minutes before unmolding. Garnish with chives and serve warm at room temperature.