la torta verde della rina

I miss Italian food. The food I eat when I am back to Italy for a vacation. With family and friends. In their houses or at restaurants. I did not use to prepare it myself though. But I have no other options... I'm doing my best to duplicate the recipes Italians prepared for me. The "torta verde" - especially the one baked by Rina (ciao Rina!) - is among the food I miss the most. Basically it's a veggie pie covered by an irresistible olive oil crust. The typical vegetable used in the "torta verde" is called "trombetta". It's a special kind of zucchini grown in Liguria, Northern Italy (and also here in my Californian garden!). But you can use whatever in-season veggie. Here, I used a mix of butternut squash, English peas, and chards. Make your own combination and let me know how it worked for you.
torta verde

the dough
2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup filtered water
1 ts salt

1. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl
2. Add olive oil and mix well with a fork
3. Sprinkle water over mixture and mix well 
4. Knead with your hands until you obtain a smooth ball (at that point, you might have to adjust the amount of flour and/or water; if the dough is too sticky, add flour; if it's too dry, add water)
5. Cover and set aside while preparing the filling

the filling
+/- 800 gr squash 
100 gr English peas (frozen)
1/2 bunch chard
1 small onion
100 gr arborio rice
1/2 cup milk
3-4 eggs
100-125 gr Parmesan cheese or a mix of Parmesan/pecorino
1 ts salt

1. Cut the squash into tiny cubes (the smaller the better). 
table.etc: You can also use a food processor to speed up the process  a little bit. However, the result is slightly mushier - "puree like" - while more "al dente" when you cut the squash with a knife.
2. Wash the chards, cut them in thin ribbons, rinse them, and combine them with the tiny diced squash. 
table.etc: If the chard leaves are pretty thick, put them in boiling water for 1 minute; rinse with cold water; drain very well,  pressing the small ball of boiled chard very hard into your hands.
3. In a medium pan, cook the onion, thinly diced, over medium heat with the olive oil for about 5 minutes; then add rice. When the rice is translucid (after 2 to 3 minutes), add the milk and let it evaporate. When the rice is almost dry, add the peas, and cook for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
4. Combine all the veggies into a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, and salt. Mix very well.

the process

0. Preheat the oven to 375-400F.
1. Flatten the dough.
If using a pasta machine: divide the dough into 6 pieces. Flatten the pieces into wide strips. 
If using a rolling pan: divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten them into 2 circles. 
table.etc: I like my torta verde to have a very thin crust, especially for the top part. I found out throughout the years that it's not only more delicate but also that it facilitates the cooking of the inside.
2. Grease the baking sheet (i used a 11'3/4'' inch) with olive oil. Cover with the strips or a circle of dough. Pick with a fork.
3. Pour the filling over it, pressing slightly and evenly with a spatula.
4. Cover with the remaining pastry strips (or pastry circle) with no overlapping so that it can breathe. 
5. Fold the border of dough up over the filling and brush with a mix of oil+water. With the tip of scissors, make small cuts on the dough, allowing steam to escape and avoid burning.
6. Bake at 375-400F for about 40-45 minutes. Every 10-15 minutes, take the torta verde out to make more holes with scissors. You can also brush with water+olive oil to avoid drying and burning.
7. Let it rest 5 minutes in the pan. Then transfer into a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature. It tastes even better the day after.

No comments: