Strawberry Ricotta Tart with Lemon Verbena Essence

I planted some strawberries in a pot several years ago, I never get a big yield, but I like seeing them perk back to life every Spring.  Just getting a warm and flavorful strawberry jewel now and then is like getting a present, even if it is a race to get there before a bird, squirrel or chipmunk does.

FYI…bird netting doesn’t stop chipmunks, ask me how I know.

That’s okay, because at the farmer’s market, these strawberries looked so very attractive in their green cardboard boxes, I wanted to inhale all of them right away.

I brought home two pints and made some pate sucree tart dough. After chilling, I rolled it out and baked it in a removable-bottom tart pan, using the leftover scraps to make a tartlet for the chef, a.k.a me.

Time to play with some flavor… I have lemon verbena in my garden and have been reading up on how to use it best.  (I believe some lemon verbena ice cream and lemon verbena and mint tea is in my future…)

I infused the verbena leaves into a simple syrup with some left over vanilla bean pod scraps.  At first I just chopped the verbena and was going to add it raw into my tart filling, but no matter how finely I minced it, it still had a tough bite to it, and since my filling would not be cooked either, I rough chopped it, bruised it and then infused it (sounds like I’m selling a kitchen gadget on T.V.)  into hot syrup, to be sure the fragrant oil would be released and no one would be chewing on a piece of it.

The verbena in the syrup was subtle, like lemon zest with a bit of lime in the background, it would be good for adding to iced tea or lemonade. To make the tart filling, I whipped up some heavy cream and loosened up some ricotta cheese, poured some of the verbena-vanilla syrup into each (reserving some to brush over the top of the finished tart), and then folded the whipped cream into the ricotta.

After folding the cream in, I ever so lovingly plopped the filling into my baked (and cooled) tart and tartlet shells.

Then I put the quartered strawberries and extra syrup on top…

and quickly went to town on my ‘personal’ tart, you know, just to make sure it was okay, or as my sister calls it, be a “poison tester”.  It passed.

It was like a giant strawberries and cream party with the cookie-like tart shell along for some crumbly crunch. I liked the ricotta cream filling, the lemony-lime fragrance of the lemon verbena and vanilla complimented the berries. The syrup and tart shell could be made and baked off the day before and the filling comes together quickly, I like that too.

Shortly after taking a pic of the big tart…

I went to put it on a plate to chill it for later, it slid off the removable bottom and I dropped it… oops! Oh well, it tasted just as good mashed up a bit, put in a glass and renamed strawberry tart trifle.

For the tart dough I used Joy of Baking’s recipe, but there are many good ones out there. I’ve also used Martha Stewart’s several times. 

For the Ricotta Tart Filling:

4 or 5 lemon verbena sprigs, leaves roughly chopped and slightly bruised

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

the shavings of one scraped out vanilla bean pod, or, if you do not have any used vanilla bean pods, 1 TBS vanilla extract

1/2 pound ricotta cheese, (if excessively watery, strained)

1/2 cup whipped heavy cream

pinch salt

1. Make a simple syrup by bringing to boil the sugar and water. Take off heat and add chopped lemon verbena leaves, their stems and a scraped vanilla bean pod, infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out leaves and pods, add a pinch of salt and chill thoroughly. If you are using vanilla extract, add to chilled syrup.

2. In a mixer, whip heavy cream adding a quarter cup of chilled syrup before reaching stiff peaks. Set aside in another bowl.

3. Using the mixer, loosen ricotta cheese, for 20-30 seconds on medium speed, add another 1/4 cup of syrup slowly.

4. Fold cream into ricotta in thirds, being careful not to deflate the mixture.

44 thoughts on “Strawberry Ricotta Tart with Lemon Verbena Essence

  1. Great post and recipe. Good call on the bruising and infusing… got to be something you can do with that phrase. Pate sucre… yum and looks perfect. I liked the way you cut up the strawberries, too.
    I feel like we speak the same language when we write.
    I’m just a few days away from posting the strawberry cake. Tis the season… almost.
    Our strawberries use to love a little liquid fish fertilizer early on. Not too much, but gives them a little bang.

    • Thanks, funny you should mention that about the liquid fish fertilizer, I was just reading not five minutes ago, about how I should put some compost on them for higher yields.. you know, for the chipmunks sake…

  2. Ooooh my mouth actually, physically watered!!! There is nothing like a home grown strawberry either, unlike the shop bought ones that taste like water. It really tickled me that the chipmunks eat yours, I am sorry because they must be a right royal pain in the bum to you, but we only get them in pet shops here! 😉

      • I can picture bluebirds perched on your finger and squirrels weaving around your feet! Bet you get your hair plaited by butterflies too 😉

  3. To me, that tart looks to die for (even the mashed bits)! I also envy your strawberry pot. I have always liked the looks of those.

  4. Those strawberry plants look like everbearing strawberry plants (Produce all summer)? I had a dozen of those but gave them away. I switched to June bearing plants. They produce most of the month of May and are pretty much done by the first week in June. Mine are in a 6 foot round pyramid and I normally get about 10-12 quarts on a good year.The grandkids love going out and picking strawberries throughout the month.
    The biggest secret I know is to pull out the older plants before they get root bound and leave the plants that came from the runners the previous year. The new plants produce the best.
    I may just have to try your recipe. We normally just eat them the way they are. 🙂

  5. Yes, they are everbearing, and thank you for the helpful tip! They are only supposed to last a few years (I read 4 years) so I may soon have an opportunity to try June bearing. Good strawberries don’t need much fuss. If they aren’t that good (ie. store bought, not height of season), I’ve found macerating them with a little sugar for a bit really helps.

  6. Oh dear. I think I may have to invite myself to your house to eat your delicious food! I’m staying with in-laws who don’t keep a clean/working kitchen, but someday I swear I’ll have a bright, sunny kitchen with herbs and spices and a garden so I can make my own strawberry tarts . . . . instead of drooling on my keyboard. : )

  7. Strawberry season in China was about a month or so ago, but I’m looking forward to a trip to the US soon where I can extend it! Cheers.

  8. Oh wow, that looks so yummy both before and after the spill! And I see you have to fend the squirrels off, too. They managed to eat all of our strawberry plants in our backyard! Luckily we still have a few in the front, so maybe I can try this recipe with some homegrown berries.

  9. A delicious looking tart. But what got me most was using lemon verbena as a flavour, I’ve had verbena tea in the past and it is a favourite of mine, I need to strack down a plant from a local nursery so I can grow it, so I’m always on th elook out for extra ideas.

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