Thursday, 13 October 2011

TORTA VERDE

Literally, "green tart", this is a regional speciality of Liguria (my current foodie obsession), where it is sometimes also called Torta Pasqualina, or Easter tart. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the Greek spinach and feta pie spinakopitta.


The mountainous landscape of Liguria does not lend itself easily to cultivation and so this tasty vegetable tart tends to be made with whatever is available at the time. I've eaten it made with spinach or chard, potatoes, onions, and leeks. In the village of Molini di Triora, where I have stayed each time I've visited Liguria, you can buy a slab of freshly made torta verde for breakfast, or enjoy it as a canape (stuzzichini) with an early evening aperitif. It has a thin, crisp pastry and a layer of vegetable filling within. The pastry is very simple, just plain flour, olive oil and water, and the trick is to keep the whole ensemble thin - about 2 cms including filling and pastry.

Here's a rough recipe: you can of course vary the filling, according to taste and availability of ingredients. The key is to keep it green!


Pastry
400g plain flour (pastry flour)
5 tbsp olive oil
water

I use my Kitchenaid food mixer with the dough hook. Put the oil and flour in the bowl of the mixer and set the motor running. Add enough water to form a soft, elastic dough. Knead in the mixer, or by hand, for about 5 mins, then turn out onto a board and knead for a minute or two longer. Then divide the dough into 6 equal-sized balls, cover and leave to rest.

Filling

2 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
approx 500g fresh spinach or chard (or frozen spinach)
Fresh oregano, chopped
1 tub of ricotta
1 egg
Approx 4 medium sized waxy potatoes (Charlotte), pre-cooked and sliced
Salt and pepper

Fry the onion and leeks until soft. Add the spinach or chard and cook until wilted. Add the chopped oregano. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and add the ricotta and egg. For a more cheesy flavour, add some freshly-grated parmesan. Check seasoning.

Oven 180C

To prepare the tart, roll the six pieces of dough together to form a very thin pastry. Brush a non-stick baking tray with olive oil and lay the pastry in it. Place a thin layer of the vegetable/ricotta mixture on it and then a layer of potatoes. Top with more vegetable mixture and then bring the overlapping pastry up to form a top to the pie. Brush with olive oil and bake until golden and crisp. Carefully lift the tart out of the baking tray and cut into small pieces.

2 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting. Earlier today a Genoese colleague of mine mentioned Cima alla Genovese, which sounds very exotic. You can see a recipe on gourmetliguiria.blogspot.com which sounds like it's right up your street...D

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  2. My family come from a little village just above Molini di Triora (Andagna) and my two Aunty's cook this all the time. There are no leeks in their recipe, mainly spinach or Swiss Chard, which is so hard to come by in UK, so I just use spinach. I will give this a try, it is my favourite food that reminds me of such a beautiful part of the world. Daniela

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