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Spring vegetable ricotta tart with whole wheat olive oil crust


Another spring one, from the same meal as yesterday’s post. We served this one alongside grilled salmon, roasted brussel sprouts, bread, and salad, and ate our first outdoor family dinner of the year. There was a heater, to be certain, and it was too dark outside by the time dessert was served, but it was still lovely to start the evening outside.

crust_veggies crust


This is pretty obviously inspired by early spring flavors – asparagus, leeks, fresh herbs, and ricotta. The crust is olive oil and half whole wheat flour for a heartier texture and flavor, the leeks fortified with mushrooms for a bit more content, and the ricotta lightened with lemon zest and chopped herbs. It was a perfect hearty side for the grilled salmon, but would also make a lovely vegetarian main dish (or non-vegetarian, if you wanted to add some flaked fish or pancetta/bacon along with the leek-mushroom mixture). It’s also easy to make ahead, since it’s really perfect at room temperature.


unbaked (1)


Spring vegetable ricotta tart with whole wheat olive oil crust

Serves 8 as a side, 6 as a main dish

Crust – adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini, makes enough for an 10-12″ tart pan

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cold water, plus more as needed 
  • Butter, oil, or non-stick cooking spray to grease the pan


  • 8 ounces mushrooms (crimini, white, shitake, etc.)
  • 1 medium leek
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium bunch asparagus stalks
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 oz. ricotta (whole or part-skim is fine)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (I used chives and rosemary, but really anything will work – thyme, basil, parsley, sage, etc.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg

– Prepare the crust: Mix together the flours and salt in a medium bowl. Add the olive oil and mix together with a fork. Add the cold water in two batches, mixing with a fork and adding enough that the dough comes together. Add more water if necessary to mix the dough into a shaggy ball, kneading once or twice with your hands if necessary to bring the dough together. If it’s warm in your kitchen and the dough feels very soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes or so. Otherwise, move right on to the next step.

Put crust in the pan: Grease an 11″ or 12″ tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan, set aside. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the counter or the rolling pin. Press into the bottom of the pan, going only 1-1 1/2″ up the sides if your pan has taller sides. Put in the refrigerator until ready to fill.

– Prepare asparagus: You have two options here – you can roast the asparagus with olive oil, salt, and lemon zest, or you can quick blanch it. One requires more preparation, but the other requires boiling a big pot of water and preparing an ice bath. I chose to roast, but if you want to blanch and need instructions check here. For roasting: preheat oven to 400F. Trim the woody ends off the asparagus – I do this by grabbing each piece with two hands near the stalk end and bending until it naturally breaks, which will be at the point where the stalk gets woody. On a baking sheet, toss the trimmed asparagus with a bit of olive oil (enough to lightly coat), a few pinches of salt, and the zest of half the lemon. (The zest will clump up a bit, but that’s fine.) Roast until desired tenderness (I like mine still a little crisp, but that’s up to you.) After taking out the asparagus, reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

– Prepare the mushrooms/leeks: You can do this simultaneously with the asparagus process, if you have time. Slice the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Mince the three garlic cloves. Slice and wash the leek into 1/4″ pieces (here’s what I do: cut off the root end, separate the dark green part from the white and light green fleshy parts, and cut the fleshy parts lengthwise. Slice down each half into 1/4″ half-moon shapes. Put cut leeks in a bowl of cold water, swish around a bit, then let sit. After a few minutes, the dirt will sink to the bottom and you can grab the clean, chopped leeks from the water.) Now you want to sauté these all together. I had a small pan so sautéed the mushrooms and garlic and then the leeks in two batches, but you can easily do all together. If you do, start the leeks first and add the mushrooms once they’re softened. Add more water (or better yet, white wine) if needed to moisten the mixture and tenderize the leeks. Salt to taste, and don’t forget the garlic! Set aside.

– Make the filling: While the vegetables are cooling, prepare the ricotta layer. Mix together the ricotta, the other half of the zest, the chopped herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in an egg, and set aside.

– Assemble: Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, spread first the mushrooms and leeks in the bottom of the crust. Spread the ricotta mixture over the vegetables – it may be a fairly thin layer and some veggies may peek through, but that’s fine. Cut the asparagus into 1″ pieces (or smaller – the smaller they are, the easier the tart will be to slice), scatter over the top of the ricotta layer, and lightly press them down into the ricotta.

– Bake: Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes, until the edges of the crust feel firm and the ricotta layer feels fairly set. It will continue to set as it cools. It will also be much easier to slice when it’s cool, and you may need to slightly adjust pieces of asparagus so your knife can slice between them.

Making ahead: The finished tart can be refrigerated for 3-4 days; let sit out for at least 30 minutes to come up to room temperature. The crust, asparagus, and mushroom-leek mixture can each be made 3-5 days ahead; the ricotta mixture can be made 1 day ahead. 

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. My goodness this looks delicious!

    April 26, 2013
  2. It looks so healthy!

    April 27, 2013
  3. Megan #

    Looks great! We will be making this SOON.

    June 19, 2013
  4. Jackie #

    I made a version of this! Substituted the wheat flour for almond meal (because I didn’t have any) and onion for leeks. Added bacon. Topped with asparagus and tomatoes. Yum!

    July 8, 2013

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