Our ovens recently went on the blink, and we had to do without baking for over two weeks while the repairman ordered parts. We made it through the crisis – with some withdrawal symptoms – and our ovens were finally restored to working order. To celebrate, I decided to make a couple of quiches using some shrimp and fresh Spring asparagus from the grocery store. I made the quiches only to discover that I had left out the asparagus. My fall-back plan was to use the asparagus the next night in something else. The plan wound up to be an exercise in cleaning out the refrigerator. I came up with what is not really a quiche, so I called it a ricotta pie. Regardless of the name, it turned out to be a good use for the asparagus.
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 Cup vegetable shortening
- 2 2/3 Tablespoons (8 teaspoons) ice water
- Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl
- Add the shortening and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse corn meal
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the water, mixing with a table fork until the mixture comes together in a ball.
- Knead gently for just a few seconds, shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
- 16 ounces low-fat ricotta
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Tablespoon Pernod
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 1 pound fresh asparagus
- 6 crimini mushrooms
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
- 3 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly and finely grated
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, Pernod, salt, and pepper until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
- Wash the asparagus, trim the woody ends (saving them for stock), and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Clean and slice the mushrooms. Sauté them in olive oil until they have given up their liquid. Drain and set aside.
- Remove the chilled pie crust dough from the refrigerator and roll it into a circle large enough to line a 9 inch pie pan with enough to crimp the top edge.
- Ladle half of the ricotta mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie shell.
- Arrange the asparagus pieces over the filling. Then add the mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and prosciutto in layers.
- Cover with the remaining ricotta mixture and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 425° for 10 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 350° for an additional 60 minutes. Turn the baking pie front to back in the oven about half way through the baking. Watch carefully toward the end of baking and remove from the oven if the pie becomes too brown.
- Place the finished pie on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then slice into 6 or 8 pieces. Serve while still warm.