Goat and sheep cheeses are a specialty of the Corsican people; historically, they spent their days on the interior of the island far from the danger of the sea and pirates who came around. While seafood graces the plates of many a traveler today to this French island, we’re going to focus on the artisan product that is reserved for those who venture into the mountainous center of Corsica.
Brocciu is a Corsican cheese that has been awarded the AOC (appellation d’origine controlée) certification from the French gastronomic authorities and is also considered an official food of the island. If the recipe below can be garnished with a fresh cheese such as brocciu, you’ll really get an accurate flavor and taste of Corsican cuisine. Fresh cheeses are rind-less and not aged for long. Alternately, ricotta or goat’s cheese can be used.
This tart may have roots in a variety of European cuisines, but due to the fact that it is an open-faced galette and highlights fresh cheese and the wild herbs and greens, it’s a dish that you could very easily enjoy while cycling Corsica. Let this one you create in your own kitchen serve as an aperitif for your bicycling vacation, so to speak.
Recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 4 large chard leaves, de-ribbed and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- Equivalent of 2 cups of other greens, roughly chopped (kale, dandelion greens, collards, spinach, beet greens, mustard greens, fennel, leeks)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
- ½ cup mixed fresh herbs, minced (sage, sorrel, parsley, mint, basil, thyme, oregano; whatever combination you prefer)
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup pecorino cheese, grated
- ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
- 1/3 cup brocciu cheese or alternate fresh cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt, pepper
Saute onion, celery, greens, garlic, herbs, and mushrooms in olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook for 15 minutes until greens are wilted and stir continuously. In a separate bowl, mix together the feta, pecorino, almonds, lemon, with salt and pepper. Mix in the wilted greens. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out puff pastry and cut into a circle. Place on rimmed baking sheet, and spread the filling leaving about ½ an inch of a border. Take the brocciu or fresh cheese and dollop it around. Pinch the pastry up and over the edge of the filling to form a lip of sorts. Brush with egg, refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden. When it comes out of the oven, brush it with olive oil and serve warm or at room temperature.
This can easily be a main course dish that serves four. If you’re really feeling ambitious and especially Corsican-themed, consider whipping up a lemon mousse or chestnut cake, both desserts you’ll find while traveling there.
**For those who are just silly for cheese, particularly those carefully created by hand and cultured under the close eye of specialists and shepherds, Corsica is the place to taste it. Few of the country’s cheeses are exported, so you must be in the close range of those sheep and goats to try these masterpieces.