Beet Napoleon with Green Peas and Ricotta Cheese (Mille-Feuille de Betterave et Petits Pois)
This savory Napoleon dish is heavily inspired by my childhood BFF's homecook expert a.k.a her husband Olivier. They came to visit us in the Bay Area right before we came visiting them in their new Parisian apartment last night. Olivier briefly told me about his savory creation which he calls "mille-feuille de betterave et petits pois" (literally "beet and green pea napoleon") in French. He went on to explain that he prepared green pea-flavored ricotta cheese filling in between thinly-sliced beet layers. I interprated my own version as I didn't have detailed instructions and added phyllo dough as a nice contrast in texture. I also added basil and ground cumin to the ricotta for extra flavor. For additional color, I garnished the first course dish with colorful vegetables from our garden: freshly-picked radishes, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. I'm not sure Olivier was aiming for the same result but what I can assure you is it was delicious.
I can't believe my European trip is coming to an end already. I''ll be heading home soon for more book signing appearances. My next ones are taking place at Barnes and Noble. Please mark your calendar if you're in the Bay Area and be sure to stop by Barnes and Noble Blossom Hill, 5353 Almaden Expressway, Building B in San Jose, California. I'll be doing a cooking demo, followed by a book signing on July 5th at noon.
Yields: 6 servings18 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
6 tablespoons melted butter
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup basil, blanched
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh green peas, boiled and transferred to an ice bath
½ cup heavy whipping cream, cold
3 red beets
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, then finely ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Working with phyllo dough:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Brush a sheet of phyllo dough with a thin layer of melted butter using a silicone brush. Using scissors, cut the sheet into 36 small rectangles. Stack the phyllo pieces onto a baking sheet. Repeat until all the phyllo sheets are used. Sprinkle the top with sea salt.
Bake the phyllo dough for 20 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and let stand at least 10 minutes.
Transfer the rectangles of dough to cooling racks and let cool to room temperature. Using a long sharp knife, cut the rectangles in half lengthwise.
Making ricotta filling:
In a mixing bowl, whisk the ricotta cheese to soften it. Season with salt and pepper.
In a blender, combine the extra-virgin olive oil and the basil. Pulse until smooth. Add to the ricotta.
In a small stainless-steel mixing bowl, whip ½ cup cream (at low speed) for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Add cumin, turmeric and salt. Increase to maximum speed and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes, until it forms soft peaks.
Pour ⅓ of the whipped cream into the ricotta cheese mixture. Mix well using a silicone spatula. Add the green peas. Pour in the rest of the whipped cream; gently fold the whipped cream.
Fit a pastry bag with a large round-shaped tip and spoon the filling into the bag.
For the beet topping:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Peel the beets. Using a mandoline, thinly slice the beets. Stack the slices by overlaying them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and the rosemary.
Heat a large, oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and the remaining melted butter. When the butter is nutty, carefully transfer the beets using a spatula. Let brown on one side for 2 minutes, then place the pan into the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Allow to cool.
Line up the individual serving plates.
Place 1 teaspoon of ricotta and top with 1 layer of dough on a plate (that way the phyllo dough is secured and won't slide from the plate). Pipe 12 little mounds (4 by 3) of green pea ricotta filling onto the rectangle of dough. Place another layer of dough on top and gently press. Repeat the same procedure for the second and third levels and finally top with the decorated beet piece.
Garnish with the colorful veggies. I used paper-thin sliced radishes, topped with belle pepper purée, cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic syrup.
Serve at room temperature.
Folding whipped cream into the ricotta gives a light and airy texture to the filling.Published By: on July 1, 2014.