Whether you are a gardener drowning in winter greens or you are the person who dutifully buys kale and swiss chard every week only to throw it out the next week, this recipe is for you. I discovered the torta in Andrew Colman's Flavors of the Riviera. The torta was once made in a region so poor that flour and therefore pasta was a luxury, and with a handful of flour, some cheese, and whatever is growing in your garden, you have a meal.
This tastes like a cross between fresh pasta and spanakopita, and once you've made it, you will see that you can fill this with nearly anything in season as long as it isn't too moist. I made this a second time with sautéed mushrooms (which I then strained), goat cheese, thyme, thin slices of zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. It was sooo good. Be forewarned, however, that the dough is supposed to chill for at least an hour, and while this isn't complicated, it takes a little time to roll out, assemble, and bake.
The directions call for this to be made on a 14" pizza pan, but if you don't have one just do this on a baking sheet and make it a rectangle.
Ingredients for the Dough:
1-1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the Filling:
a bunch of Swiss chard with the stems removed and the leaves finely chopped
1 medium potato, boiled, peeled, and diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1-1/4 cups crumbled mild feta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt to taste
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Mix the salt and flour together with a spoon. Drizzle in the oil, and then add water a little bit at a time, up to a half cup. I did this all in the bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth and refrigerate it for at least an hour.
2. While the dough is chilling, prepare all of the filling ingredients and stir them together- EXCEPT for the olive oil.
3. Preheat the oven to 375.
4. Divide the dough into 2 balls, one comprised of one third of the dough and the other of two thirds of the dough. If that sounds too complicated, just make one a little bigger than the other and you'll be fine. On a lightly floured board, roll the larger ball out into a 15 inch circle. Oil and flour a 14 inch pizza pan, and then lay the dough over it. Spread the filling out over the dough. Roll the second dough ball out to 14 inches and top the filling with it. Wet the edge and then fold the bottom layer over the top dough layer to seal it all. Smoosh it down a little with your fingertips to create some indentations, and then drizzle it with the olive oil. Prick it with a fork in a few places to vent steam when it cooks.
5. Bake it for about 35 minutes.
Perrin's Mushroom-Barley Risotto
This is how she tried to sabotage my late afternoon run- by tempting me with a taste of her amazing risotto. One bite is not enough. One bowl is not enough. The broccoli she served with it was doused in a mustardy vinaigrette, the perfect counterpoint to the rich and creamy barley. Enjoy.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, sliced or chopped
8 cups of assorted mushrooms, chopped if large
1 stick butter cut into cubes (!!! I know, but just do it)
salt and pepper
3 pinches of thyme
1- 8.8 ounce bag of 10-minute barley (available at Trader Joe's)
1 quart of beef stock
shredded Parmesan (available in a bag from Trader Joe's)
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onion. When the onion becomes transparent, add the mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. When the mushrooms have withered slightly, toss in the barley, thyme, and butter. Stir it, and when the butter has melted add a cup of stock. As that absorbs, add more stock and keep stirring. Continue stirring and adding stock as it absorbs. You may want to adjust the heat if the barley is sticking to the pan. When almost all of the stock has absorbed, turn the heat off, cover the skillet, and leave it for 10-15 minutes. Season with more salt if necessary and sprinkle it with Parmesan to serve.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!