Seriously – it is just me, or is everyone just over-booked and busy these days? I remember always having something on the books, but lately I feel like it’s go go go. It took a rainy day at home to finally take the day to enjoy my favorite pastime – cooking! Yeah yeah, before you make some comment about how domesticated I’ve become… realize that I’ve always LOVED to cook. I just never have time. Especially here in NYC – who does? F, even Carrie Bradshaw used her oven for sweater storage.
So anyways, when I say cook – I mean I dug into the ole Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cookbook. Cooking doesn’t mean frying up some Hamburger Helper, or trying to perfect the latest Pinterest recipe – it should be a delicate routine. A battle between kitchen and chef – the conquest to master the untamable – creating a masterpiece you didn’t think you were capable of.
For me, tis is the Torte. The perfect combination of baking and savory flavors.
The pastry shell for this vegetable pie is unusual because instead of the eggs that customarily go into making flaky pastries, it uses ricotta.
Vegetable Torte in a Flaky Crust
For the Filling:
1 cup chopped asparagus, mushrooms, squash or zucchini (I use what’s in season!)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1. Put the oil, onion, and carrot in a saute pan, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes colored a pale gold. Then add the parsley, stirring it rapidly 2 or 3 times. Cook until tender, from 5 to 15 minutes. If in the meantime the liquid in the pan becomes insufficient, add a tablespoon or two. Pour the entire contents of the pan into a bowl and allow to cool completely.
2. When cool, mix in the ricotta and grated Parmesan.
3. Beat the eggs lightly in a deep dish, then swirl them into the bowl. Taste and correct the filling for salt and pepper.
Making The Pastry Crust and Completing the Torte
1 1/2 cups flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 teaspoon salt
Wax paper or parchment paper
Butter and flour for the pan
1. Preheat over to 375 degrees.
2. Mix the flour, butter, ricotta, and salt in a bowl, using your fingers or a fork.
3. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and knead for 5 or 6 minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 2 unequal parts – one twice as large as the other.
4. Roll out the larger piece of dough into a circular sheet no thicker than 1/3 inch. To simplify transfering this to the pan, roll out the dough on the lightly floured wax paper (or kitchen counter).
5. Smear the inside of your round pan (I use a cake pan) with butter, then dust it with flour and turn it over giving it a sharp smack against the counter to shake off loose flour.
6. Pick up the dough and place in pan, covering the bottom and letting it come up the sides. Smooth the dough, flattening and evening off any bulky creases with your fingers.
7. Pour the vegetable filling into the pan and level it off.
8. Roll out the remaining piece of dough using the same method as before. Lay it over the filling, covering it completely. Press the edge of the top dough against the edge of the pan. Make a tight seal all around, folding any excess dough toward the center.
9. Place on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven and bake until the top is lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Allow the torte to settle a few minutes before loosening it from the bottom and transferring it to a serving platter.