Monday, 15 September 2014

Torta verde

As a result of my recent fortuitous harvest I've been planning meals around courgettes and runner beans. There's a limit to the number of courgette fritters one can consume, although my husband politely asks me to point out that he has not yet found that limit. But this lovely little recipe provides an alternative option that can be served in any number of ways: as either a main course, with a salad; a snack; as a picnic dish or even as delicate little individual tartlettes as a starter.

As I've been picking my friend's allotment for her while she's away I happen to have courgette and beans handy, but this works remarkably well with pretty much any green veg including chard, spinach, brocolli and fennel. 

This is based on a tradtional Ligurian savoury tart, reminiscent of spanakopita. Unlike their Greek cousins the Ligurian version uses an olive pastry in lieu of filo.  This marvelous dough must be about the simplest pastry in the world to make and handle. Try it with whatever you have in your veg garden/salad box/fridge.

Olive pastry
  • 400g/4oz strong flour
  • pinch salt
  • 6tblsp olive oil
  1. Combine everything in a bowl and gradually add a splash of water until all the flour is combined into smooth, firm dough, Cling wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

 For the filling
  • 350g courgette, sliced evenly
  • 150g runner beans, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • medium bunch basil, chopped
  • 60g arborio rice
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 80g feta cheese, grated
  • 80g parmesan, grated
  1. In a large pan sauté the courgette, fennel, beans, peas, garlic and basil in a splash of olive oil until soft, then roughly blitz in a food processor. Season to taste.
  2. Cut your olive dough in two and thinly roll out half to line a pre-oiled tart tin (ideally one with a removable base). Leave a collar of at least 1cm of pastry round the edge of the tin. Now roll the second half of the pastry out thinly and leave to be used as the lid.
  3. Into your veg mix add your beaten egg, the cheese, the rice and any salt and pepper required to taste. Remember that your cheese is salty, so add this and taste before adding any further seasoning.
  4. Now place the second piece of rolled out pastry over the pie and trim the edges to leave only 1cm of collar round the edge,  Roll this collar in (as on the picture below) and then use your thumb and forefinger to make a crimped edge.
  5. Brush olive oil onto the top of the pie and make 3 small cuts in the top to release the steam and prevent the lid from getting soggy.
  6. Bake on 180C for between 40-50 minutes, until golden brown. To check if it is ready insert a knife into one of the holes to test the rice isn't still too hard.

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