A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of learning how to make ricotta cheese from scratch, along with a few other Austin food writers. The class leader was Margaret Christine of From Maggie’s Farm. I first met her at our first ATX Swappers event back in December 2010, and I could help but be smitten with her bubbly personality. For me, Maggie is exactly what you think a Southern woman is going to be like: charming, funny, and always ready to give you a big hug and a mouthful of something good.
When I got home with my brand-new ricotta, I thought I was going to make stuffed pasta shells with it, but I spied a package of beautiful, early season grape tomatoes and I knew I had to pair them up for a date.
And, since I always have lard on hand, it seemed like as good of a time as any to practice my pie crust technique. But as I’m never one to leave well enough alone, this pie had to be outside of the box. Literally. It’s crostata time!
Crostatas are so much more fun than pies. See the evidence:
1. The word crostata just sounds cooler. Ricotta pie? Boring. Ricotta crostata? Get me a jingle writer, stat.
2. Crostatas don’t require the use of pie plates, which is useful for poor college students who don’t have bakeware or lazy people who don’t like doing dishes.
3. Free form, baby. Crostatas don’t have to be relegated to the confines of a circle or rectangle. A crostata rises whichever way it damn well pleases.
4. If some of your filling leaks out an edge, that’s OK. Because crostatas are rustic, and if I’ve learned anything from reading food blogs, rustic = messy.
1 pie crust
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ pint grape tomatoes
1 egg, beaten
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400.
2. Roll out pie crust to about 1/8-inch thick and transfer to baking sheet. Patch the holes you made in the dough from moving it.
3. Mix ricotta, herbes de Provence, and salt together and spread onto crust, leaving a wide rim around the dough.
4. Halve or quarter your tomatoes, depending on the size. (Let’s not get into a size argument here, but my tomatoes were pretty small to begin with, and I halved them because I’m a crazy food blogger. You might not be.) Either way, pile your cut-or-uncut tomatoes on top of the ricotta.
5. Fold over the dough. Sprinkle salt and olive oil over the top of the crostata, or don’t, because who am I to tell you what to do? Brush folded-over dough with beaten egg.
6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown.