Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Torta d'Erbe

This is yet another way to use the spinach beet that grows so abundantly in the summer months and have the advantage of tasting delicious. This is also a perfect pie for a vegetarian. As you can see from the photo of the spinach in the orto, there is lots, and that's after I picked the stuff that I used.

In the region where I come from there are feste to this torta. Well let's face it in Italy there are feste to just about anything. The other day, while to drive through a place called Farini d'Olmo, I was amazed to see advertised a festa to tractors. No doubt there would be food, dancing and lots of wine. Not while on the tractor, I hope.

For the filling:

About 750g of spinach after it has been stripped from the stalks.
100ml approx of olive oil. This does not need to be extra virgin.
150g of Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
2 tbs plain flour

Strip the spinach from the stalks and if you feel industrious then use them in another dish. I usually just compost them as I really don't know what to do with them. I then slice the spinach and dry it in a salad spinner. This helps to get rid of any excess water which will spoil the torta.
Now put the spinach in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You will be surprised by the way that the mixture decreases in volume.
Now, I know that this contains raw eggs but I tend to taste the mixture to assess the seasoning. If there is not enough salt or cheese, add some more. It's your torta. Just remember that it is not a quiche and should not contain too many eggs.
You might have thought that you had too much before but now you will see sensible proportions. It will reduce even more while it cooks.

The pastry is made in a similar way to the pastry for the torta di patate. This may not seem much pastry but it will be rolled out thinly. Using very little fat and tepid water will allow you to do this.

250gm plain flour

75gm butter

tepid water

Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and add enough tepid water to make a softish dough. Roll out to line and overlap a shallow tin. The tin should be about 30cm x 40cm. If you don't have one of these then use a few smaller ones, I do as there are only two of us now. Empty nest and all that.

Pile the filling into the ready lined tin and cover with a sheet of thin pastry. Remember that the pastry has to be as thin as pasta. Fold the side edges over the central disc and press down lightly. You can egg wash the top but i don't tend to do that as I brush with milk instead. I once tried to brush with oil but this made an over crisp topping that I didn't much like.
As an alternative you can make two round torta. Each tin will be about 30cm in diameter.
Cook in a hot oven. 230C or gas 7. It should be well cooked underneath or it will go soggy. I hate soggy pastry. Cover the top if browning too much. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before eating. This avoids burning your mouth. As if!

Buon appetito!


Amawalker said...

Hello Nonna!
I am writing an article for a local South African mag on Italian foods and would love to use one of your Torte de Erbe photographs. I firts tasted it in Pontremoli, in Nonna Norina's cucina and as a vegetarian, just loved it. We also tried Testaroli.
I would be so grateful if you could let me have a fairly High Res photo of the Torte de Erbe for the magazine as mine is quite blurred.
Cordiali Saluti!

Anonymous said...

Bore da Nonna,
Thank you for this recipe. I've made torte de patate a few times but never the spinach one. I've been craving it since I got pregnant, just like the one sold in the bakery in Bardi. I'm going to have a whirl at yours, which looks delicious and hopefully that will satisfy the greedy baby (and mother!). I'll let you know.
Grazie mille.

Anonymous said...

Bore da Nonna,
I've been dreaming about torte d'erbe ever since I got pregnant - like the one sold in the bakery at the top of Bardi that leaves your fingers greasy with oil! Yum.

I've made the potato one lots of times but never this one. It seems easy enough so I'll give it a go and let you know if it satisfies the greedy baby (and greedier mother!)
Grazie mille,

Drew said...

Hi I grew up with Torta my Nonna was from Versola near Pontremoli. I just made a video on how to make Torta which is a little different from yours but looks similar. Here is the link: http://vimeo.com/27701348
Mangia Tutti!