Ground Lamb, Greens and Cheese Puff Pastry Torte
Serves 6 to 8
It was the time of the Trailing of the Sheep Fest here in Ketchum, ID and just the sound of the baaaa’s made me hungry for a little lamb. So, I found some nice ground lamb at Atkinsons’s and inspired by a recipe from my “Puff” cookbook by Martha Holmberg, I made this yummy dish. Ground lamb is usually not that cheap but honestly, when you consider that I had so many servings of it for myself and even for a guest one evening, I bet that I didn’t spend more than $2.00 a night for my healthy and lovely meals. I had a little salad on the side and a bit of my homemade coffee ice cream accompanied by our tasty fall pears; the whole repast was perfect. And by the by, I did have this dish several nights in a row and did NOT get tired of having it—because it was so light and flavorful.
This is a 3 part recipe—one for the lamb filling, one for the greens and one for the puff pastry assembly:
Ingredients for the lamb filling:
- 3/4 lb. to 1 Lb. ground lamb
- 2 Tblsp. for the lamb browning and another 2 Tblsp. olive oil for the sauce
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 C. white wine or vermouth
- 1 C. chicken broth
- 1-14 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained HOWEVER RESERVE 1/4 C. of juice for later use
- 1-5 inch. sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 Tblsp. dried
- 1/4 Tsp. nutmeg
- 1 Tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 6 drops Tabasco or more according to your taste
- 3/4 C. plain breadcrumbs
- 1/3 C. finely grated fresh Parmesan
- 2 Tblsp. chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Directions for the lamb filling:
- Heat 2 Tblsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lamb, breaking it up so that there are no large pieces. Season with S&P and cook till it’s no longer pink. Remove the lamb and set aside. Pour off the remaining grease.
- Add the remaining 2 Tblsp. oil to the skillet and place on medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook stirring until very soft and fragrant—but don’t let brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine and boil till the mixture is glazed (about 1 minute). Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and the 1/4 C. reserved tomato juice, rosemary sprig and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Adjust heat to a lively simmer and cook until it has a nice thick consistency—like a marinara sauce (10-15 minutes).
- Remove from the heat, stir in the lamb, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and optional sun-dried tomatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, vinegar or hot sauce. Set aside and if you wish this can be refrigerated and saved till the next day.
Ingredients for the greens:
- 1 Lb. (roughly) fresh Swiss chard, kale or spinach
- 1 Tblsp. olive oil
- 1 Tblsp. sweet butter
- 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C. half and half
- 1/4 Tsp. nutmeg
- 1 egg, well beaten
Directions for the greens:
- Clean well and rough chop the greens.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the greens and toss with tongs until wilted; cook them until tender. Hint: if you are using kale, it will take longer than the chard or spinach, the latter which will take the least amount of time. Squeeze out the juice from the greens by pressing against the side of the pan and pouring off the juices.
- Over medium heat add the butter to the greens in the skillet/wok and toss to blend ; then add the flour and toss to blend; add the half-and-half stirring frequently until the greens are coated by a nice creamy sauce (2-3 minutes). Season with S&P to taste and nutmeg. Taste, adjust the seasoning and stir in the well beaten egg.
Ingredients for the final assembly:
- One sheet puff pastry, unthawed—per package directions
- 1 C. crumbled feta or 1 C. grated parmesan plus 1/4 to 1/2 C. chopped ricotta—your choice
- 1 plum or juicy tasty tomato, thinly sliced
- 1-10” Pyrex pie dish or something similar which is oven proof (you don’t need to pre-oil)
Very Final Directions:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- On a lightly floured board, roll one sheet of pastry into a 14-inch square and transfer to your pie dish with the pastry edges sticking over the pie dish.
- Spread the bottom of the pastry with 1/2 of the cooled lamb filling ; spread half of the cheese of your choice next; top with the greens then repeat these layers once again ending with the greens and very lastly finishing with the sliced tomatoes.
- Crimp the edges from the pastry over the filling.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes till filling is hot and edges are browned; let it rest about 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
- If you have left over’s, you can reheat the remainders in the dish at the same oven temp for about 20 minutes.
- You can also pre-make the sauce and the greens without the final addition of the egg the day before and then add the egg to the greens and assemble it all the next day.
- If you wish to make it into a real pie, you can unthaw and roll out the second sheet of puff pastry and use that as your topping. I frankly like the open face look and feel that the extra crust is unnecessary both for pretty presentation and calories. However, if you choose to place a top crust, make sure to make slits in it for the steam to escape before baking and cut the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.