From Nonna's Kitchen: Rocío's Peruvian Artichoke Tart
I must admit, before my Nonna project, Peruvian food was not on my radar. I had never been to a Peruvian restaurant and I hadn’t had the pleasure of making any Peruvian friends. So, when the opportunity arose to learn some traditional dishes from Perú, from a friend of my father, I was excited to get on board.
Rocío Quispe-Agnoli is a Full Professor of Hispanic Studies at Michigan State University. She loves her work and has always been very passionate about her career in academia. This passion is what brought her to The States as a young student. Although she loves her native Perú, after graduating from college she realized that if she wanted to advance professionally, she needed to leave for a new life in North America.
So she applied for and won a fellowship to study at Brown University, and never looked back. She excelled at her studies, worked hard, and realized her dream of becoming a recognized scholar. But, that does not mean she forgot her roots or the teachings of her mother and grandmother. When she was a child, her grandmother lived in her home and Rocío fondly remembers how family conversations seemed very often to involve food. In Perú, she told me, food is a true source of pleasure and the cuisine reflects the country’s population, so it is incredibly diverse.
Before leaving home, she had the foresight to copy her mother’s cherished recipe book, knowing she would need the comforts of her mother’s kitchen on her new journey. Now, when Rocío prepares her mother’s dishes, she is confident they are authentic. Indeed, she never veers from her trusty recipe book. One such recipe is her mother’s delicious artichoke tart, Pastel de alcachofas (artichoke cake). She recalled for me how her mother made it for very special occasions like her birthday. She would cut it into squares, drizzle with béchamel and serve the cake on fancy dessert plates.
Pastel de alcachofas is definitely worthy of any formal occasion or, quite honestly, it’s perfect on a weeknight too. It is delicious and decadent. I know I will continue to make it and dream of the day I can visit such a special place.
Artichoke Pastry/Tart – Peruvian Appetizer
2 rolls of prepared pie crust (I like Trader Joes)
5-6 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
4 eggs, beaten
1 egg, hard boiled
12 oz artichoke hearts, cooked and finely chopped.
1 onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic
3-4 tablespoons of unsalted butter or margarine.
1 ¼ cup of milk
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
Kosher Salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Prepare a 8 x 8 glass/pyrex baking pan and cover it with one of the pie crust. Cut the crust to fit the pan.
Mix 4 eggs and milk in a bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter or margarine in a large pan and saute the onion at medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until soft. When onion is becoming transparent, add the finely chopped artichokes and sauté again until soft. Add salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
Once cooled, add the artichoke mix to the eggs and milk, add Parmesan cheese and stir well. Pour into the baking pan and add the hard-boiled (whole or cut in halves). Cover the tart with another layer of dough/pie crust, pinch with a fork to let it air while baking, and brush it with an egg yolk mixed with lukewarm water. Preheat oven 350F, and bake tart for 50 minutes.