Swiss Chard Pie a Sweet Dessert from Nice
Nice, France’s 5th largest city, was not always part of l’hexagone but rather part of Italy until 1860, when it was ceded to France under the Treaty of Turin. As a result, the local cuisine evolved from Italian and French culinary influences. Mediterranean ingredients such as almonds, olives, olive oil, citrus, tomatoes, sardines, anchovies, and Swiss chard feature in this cuisine.
Below is a recipe for Swiss Chard Pie, Tourte aux Blette Sucrée (in French) or Tourta de Blea in Niçard (a historical language of Nice). The reproduction of this recipe was approved by the Office de Tourisme Métropolitain Nice Côte d’Azur, which invites you to explore the 30+ restaurants and many take-out locations producing traditional Cuisine Nissarde food.
Nice, France a Bit of History
Today’s coastal city was founded in roughly 350 BC by the Phocaeans. The Romans ousted the Greeks in 1 AD, adding Nice to their roster of trading ports. During the ensuing centuries, Nice was passed back and forth between French and Italian rule. With plenty of sunshine, decent land for agriculture and ready access to seafood, the Niçoise developed their unique recipes. While some of these recipes appear on menus throughout Provence, others reflect the use of ingredients found in the Alpes Maritimes near this French Riviera city.
Swiss Chard Dessert
A perfect example of one of these recipes is Swiss Chard Pie. Tourte aux Blette Sucrée is part of a collection of traditional Niçoise recipes in a cookbook that salutes the Cuisine Nissarde – Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice. Purchase the book at the tourist office in Nice or online at Amazon.
Swiss Chard Pie - Tourta de Blea - Tourte aux Blette Sucrée
For the Pastry:
- 2 cups Flour
- 1 cup Butter
- 5 oz Granulated Sugar
- 3.5 oz Icing Sugar for decoration
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 pinch of Salt
- Water if necessary
For the Filling:
- 3 lbs Chard Leaves thin-ribbed, preferably white chard
- 2 oz Cow’s Mountain Cheese (grated dry) such as Sbrinz cheese produced in Switzerland that is like parmesan
- 2 large Eggs
- 2 to 3 Russet Apples
- 3.5 oz Pinenuts
- 1 oz Brown Raisins
- 1 oz White Raisins
- 5 oz Rum for soaking the raisins
- 1.5 oz Brandy
- 5 oz Granulated or Brown Sugar
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Anise Seeds
OPTIONAL (Add to Filling)
- 2 oz Almond Powder
To prepare the Pastry:
- Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and then, in the centre, the diced butter, eggs and olive oil. Mix using the fingertips for a few minutes to obtain a smooth and homogeneous paste (adding a few drops of water if necessary), and place it in a cool place covered with a cloth. Let it rest during the preparation of the filling.
To prepare the Filling:
- For this tourte, use only the green part of the Swiss chard. Cut the chard into fine strips the width of a finger.
- Plunge the chard into a basin of cold water and wash it three times. Soaking removes the bitterness from the chard.
- Using a salad spinner or a dishcloth, dry the chard strips.
- Mix the eggs well, in a bowl, to omelette consistency with the brown sugar, brandy, drained raisins in rum, olive oil, cheese, and pine nuts. Mix with your hands. Add the chard and a peeled diced apple.
Putting it Together:
- Flatten two-thirds of the pastry to 3 to 4 mm thick with a rolling pin on a worktop generously covered with flour, making a round which will be placed in the pie dish, allowing it to overflow the edges of the pan.
- Add the filling to the top of the pastry to a thickness of about two centimetres. Add the juice from the bottom of the bowl, then spread the apple strips one beside the other.
- Spread the last third of the pastry to the diameter of the dish and, after wetting the edges, place it on the filling by carefully closing the two borders to seal them well.
- Using a fork, make small chimneys on the surface or make "birds' beaks" with small scissors.
- Put the pie in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for 40 minutes. The surface should be golden. When the pastry edges recede from the dish, the tourte is cooked.
- Remove the tourte from the oven and sprinkle it with granulated sugar.
- When it is cool, sprinkle it with icing sugar to decorate before serving it at room temperature.