Chard and Saffron Tart

August 25, 2010

My husband calls my big dinners “Dana Meals”.  A big dinner is a meal to enjoy primarily but it also is a meal to impress.  Kind of the opposite of a weeknight meal.  Mine tend to include multiple courses and multiple components.  The ice cream usually matches the dessert.  You know.  Dana Meals usually happen on weekends spent with friends and/or family.  Sometimes, when someone special is in town, I cook one during the week.

Here is the problem.  Let’s say you cook a really nice meal for a very cool and very appreciative person thoughtful enough to bring along his beautiful wife and adorable baby daughter.  Let’s say that same person brings his whole work team over for dinner on another weeknight and you make an even more impressive and complicated meal.  Now what if that person comes for dinner all by himself?  On a Monday?  You can’t exactly serve cold pizza, right?  So a Dana Meal on a Monday it was.

Now a couple of weeks ago, Randy informed me that there would need to be a Dana Meal on a Wednesday for a philosophy group he is a part of.  Please don’t send me an email saying that if Randy needs a dinner for his club, he should make it.  Theoretically that is correct.  Philosophically even.  But I know my husband and if the dinner was left up to him, cold pizza it would be.  Randy is very good at lots of things but he does not cook.

Just before that Wednesday night I had just found my perfect crust, so I opted to make two savory tarts for the philosophers.  One contained corn and white cheddar, the other had chard spiced up with saffron.  I expected the corn tart to be the runaway hit but the chard tart was so good it definitely took first place.  I loved it and couldn’t wait to make it again.  A sunny end-of-summer Monday evening with a visiting friend with high expectations seemed just right.  (I’m kidding about the high expectations.  Kind of.)

Truth be told.  Everything in the markets right now is so amazing that food can taste really exceptional with just a bit of coaxing.  Alongside the tart, I made a corn pudding that I loved and need to make as many times as possible before our fleeting corn season is over.  I sautéed some zucchini in just a bit of olive oil and then tossed the coins with strips of basil, lemon juice, and Pecorino Romano.  (This is my new favorite way to eat zucchini).  I made that tomato and burrata salad that I know I will cry remembering in November.  Not a ton of work and really delicious results.

So let’s talk about the tart.  If you happen to have tart dough in the freezer, this comes together very quickly.  After a blind bake for the crust, onions are sautéed, chard is wilted, eggs and milk are whisked together, saffron and lemon zest are added, everything stirs together and goes into the tart shell, and 40 minutes later you have a tart.  I happen to prefer my savory tarts warm and not hot, so this is a perfect dish for a dinner party.  It can sit and cool while you attend to other details.

One Year Ago: Tortellini Skewers with Parmesan Lemon Dip
Good Chard on Dana Treat: Chickpeas and Chard with Cilantro and Cumin

Chard and Saffron Tart
Adapted from The Greens Cookbook
Serves 4-6

1 recipe Tart Dough (recipe follows)
1 large bunch of chard, leaves only, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1½ cup whole milk
Large pinch saffron threads, soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
Zest of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
3 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Roll out one disk of dough to a 14-inch circle.  Carefully transfer the dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan.  Fold the edges over on themselves to create a thick crust.  Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Line the pan with foil and fill with pie weights or beans.  Bake in the oven until the edges of the crust are starting to brown and the bottom no longer looks doughy, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Heat the butter in a wide skillet; add the onion and cook it over medium heat until it is translucent and soft.  Add the garlic, and the chard leaves by handfuls, if necessary, until they all fit.  Sprinkle in a large pinch of salt.  Turn the leaves over repeatedly with a pair of tongs so that they are all exposed to the heat of the pan, and cook until they are tender, 5 minutes or more.

Make the custard.  Beat the eggs; then stir in the milk, infused saffron, lemon peel, grated Parmesan, and a few scrapings of nutmeg.  Stir in the chard and onion mixture.  Taste and season with salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Pour the filling into the prepared tart shell and bake until the top is golden and firm, about 40 minutes.  Scatter the pine nuts over top before serving.

Olaiya Land’s Tender Tart Dough

Note:  You will need only 1 disk of this dough for the tart so keep the other one in your freezer for next time!

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1¾ tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (2¼ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
8 tbsp. (or more) ice water
1½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Add butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms.  Add 8 tablespoons ice water and cider vinegar; blend until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by the teaspoon if dough is dry.

Gather dough together.  Turn out onto work surface; divide dough in half.  Form each half into ball and flatten into disk.  Wrap disks separately in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.  (Can be made ahead.  Keep dough refrigerated up to 2 days, or enclose in a resealable plastic bag and freeze up to 1 month.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.)  Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.


  1. This is the quintessential problem with having people find out you can cook…you will have to live up to expectations, over and over again. This tart has definitely done just that! I’m a chard lover so I’m especially biased but this looks amazing. Feel free to serve it to me when I drop by on a lazy Monday :P

    Comment by Joanne — August 25, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  2. This looks amazing! I have been trying to find a good saffron-incorporating recipe and this looks like a winner, I can’t wait to give it a whirl ;)

    Comment by Alexa @ Sohdalex — August 25, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  3. You shoud’ve named this “Philosopher’s Tart”!
    It’s a Tarte aux Blettes if you add currants. I love it!

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — August 25, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  4. Beautiful Dana! I love the touch of saffron here…

    Comment by Viviane Bauquet Farre / food & style — August 25, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  5. Any chance the corn pudding recipe will ever be posted?

    Comment by Rosie — August 26, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

  6. I want a Dana Meal:) I know all of your meals are fabulous!

    Comment by Maria — August 26, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  7. YUM. I’m new to your blog and just absolutely loving it! Savoury tarts have been on my mind all summer – I’ve only made one or two but they are such a satisfying meal! This one looks great.

    Comment by Angharad — August 27, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  8. Can you post the corn pudding recipe, pretty please??

    Comment by Hilary — August 31, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  9. I would’ve thought the corn tart would’ve been the hit too! But they both sound amazing. And I hope you’ll share the corn pudding recipe with us soon! (It’s possible you already have, I’m still trying to catch up on posts from my vacation!)

    Comment by Ashley — September 3, 2010 @ 3:02 am

  10. We are having (kind of) serious talks about how we could include Seattle in our California trip. Even if our plan is to go south, those Dana Meals makes us wonder if north isn’t a better option!? What is a california beach when you can have a Dana dinner instead …

    I am truly terrible at making tarts, but I’ve sent this recipe to my mum (she is the tart expert in our family) as we are having dinner at her place tomorrow. I hope she’ll make it for us!

    Comment by David — September 3, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  11. […] gorgeous chard, I’m not sure I need something quite as rich as Dana’s wonderful-looking Chart Tart. But I do love the combination of chard and eggs, so perhaps an omelette is in […]

    Pingback by Leafy, Flaky Veg – A cooking blog - Kitchenist — September 6, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  12. I made this for a lunch on Saturday and it was wonderful! Many thanks for the recipe.

    Comment by Charlotte — September 7, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

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