Sunday, December 11, 2011

Savoury Sunday, Torta Rustica

     Although not a family recipe, this pie is something I have had in my own cooking repertoire for years.  A co worker made this for a Thanksgiving dinner she hosted years ago and it was love at first bite. If I have my facts straight, this is an Italian classic that varies from region to region, household to household much like the French Canadian classic, tortiere. The name translates to "Rustic Pie".

     Why do I love this so? Other than it's a pie? If there needs to be another reason, it's completely versatile. It can be made vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free. You can use all fresh ingredients or clean the fridge out  of leftovers. You can fuss with a crust or use pizza dough. Best of all, there is no "right" way to make this. The whole point of recipes like this is to personalize it. I'll run you through how I made it last but I've never made it the same way twice. It will all make sense after the recipe.

Of course I forgot to take a picture of it sliced

Torta Rustica

2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons white wine or cold water
Use pizza dough-recipe for that at a later date

1-2 cups meat, cubed or shredded-optional
3-6 cups vegetables, coarsely chopped, blanched or roasted
2 cups cheese- grated or shredded

Prepare a 10 inch spring form pan, butter and flour, parchment paper or non stick spray

Although I have used pizza dough (my local Fiesta Farms sells fresh stuff at the deli counter) I do really like this crust so give it a try
In a food processor or by hand, mix flour, salt and butter until the consistency of coarse corn meal.
In a small bowl, lightly beat egg and white wine, this is your binder for the dough.
Add to flour mixture and pulse or mix until it gathers into a ball, shouldn't take long, don't over mix.
Divide roughly in half, one needs to be bigger than the other.
Roll out larger portion on a floured surface until you have a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of your spring form pan
The other portion is rolled out to be the cover of your pie.
Same thing applies if you are using pizza dough.

This is the fun part. I usually make this vegetarian, it's easy and not the usual vegetarian fare that shows up at parties.

The pie is filled in layers, much like building lasagna. I always start mine with either a pesto, or vegetable puree. Last time it was an olive, sun dried tomato and roasted garlic puree, which incidentally made an awesome tapenade, I had to stop eating it so I had enough left for the pie.
1/4 cup pitted olives
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
6 cloves of roasted garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pulse, blend, chop all ingredients until smooth.
Place a generous layer on the bottom of the pie.

Top with layers of meat and vegetables.
I use roughly a cup of each
Roasted red pepper
Spinach or Swiss Chard, blanched
Mushrooms, oven roasted with thyme and olive oil
Yellow zucchini, prepared as above
Eggplant, same preparation
Roasted butternut squash
Artichoke hearts
Meat layer, ham, bacon, chicken, turkey, venison, ground beef, left over roast beef or omit
Top with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan/Romano cheese, I prefer fresh if I have it
Finish with 1 1/2 -2 cups of shredded Mozzarella, Fontino, Jarlesberg... You get the idea.
Top with the remaining crust or pizza dough and crimp edges to seal.
Poke holes in the top as you would for any pie
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven about an hour until crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Can be served warm or room temperature. (You can make it the day before)

     The only rule to follow with this is the layers, contrast your colours. When you cut into it, you get a delicious and visual appealing slice. Use any vegetables you like, broccoli, cauliflower, rapini and on and on and on. Even people who normally don't like vegetables, like this pie. It can be served as an entree, a side dish or an appetizer. What's not to love about that?

     For all the alterations, vegan, gluten free. I haven't included them for the sake of brevity but if you cook like that, you will know what to substitute/omit. If you have a question feel free to drop me a line or comment and I'll help any way I can.

     I have seen about a hundred different preparations for this dish so if it isn't what you're familiar with.....
I have also seen this prepared like a quiche. I loathe quiche. I have no idea what happens when you bake eggs but I hate the taste. They always taste scorched to me, blech.

     One of my all time favourites, that isn't a family secret. Enjoy.

( WTF, spellcheck suggested torture for tortiere? Really? Just thought I'd share that)


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