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Sunday, August 16, 2015


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A few days ago I was craving "Torta"-- an Italian savory vegetable tart. or pie made with olive oil pastry and common all over Italy. This type of pie is especially common in the Italian province of Liguria, on the Italian Riviera, where my paternal grandmother’s family originated. It’s a large, thin double-crusted tart baked on a pizza pan. The thin olive oil dough (a little different from the olive oil pastry I used for a fruit pie here) is surprisingly pliable and easy to work with.

Though now considered a gourmet treat, torte were born of necessity—in earlier times wheat was expensive in that region and the thin dough used a small amount of flour and oil to feed quite a few. The filling could contain anything that was plentiful in the garden or on the farm, plus wild greens, mushrooms and herbs gleaned from nearby meadows, hillsides and forests.

For this torta, I wanted to use up both kale and summer squash from our garden, but I wanted the filling to be a simple one because I didn't have alot of time to spend in the kitchen. 

The result was delicious!  It's good hot or cold or room temperature and we enjoyed it the leftovers for lunch the next day (great picnic fare!).  I will use this simple mixture again with other veggies.  You could substitute any other type of greens for the kale, and you could use cooked potato, winter squash or eggplant instead of the summer squash.

Printable Recipe

Serves 4-6 (depending on appetites!)

Low-Fat Olive Oil Pastry Dough (make this first!):
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup ice-cold water
12 ounces kale leaves (weigh after taking stems off), thinly sliced
12 ounces summer squash (I used a combination of zucchini and pattypan squash), sliced about 3/8" thick (cut pattypan squash into thin wedges)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried mint, or 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh mint
Cheese-y Mixture:
12.3 ounce box extra-firm silken tofu
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons cornstarch, wheat starch or oat flour, OR egg replacer powder
1 tablespoon light miso
a handful of shredded vegan melting cheese
a generous sprinkling of vegan Parmesan (We like GoVeggie! brand.)

To make the Dough:
Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Drizzle in the olive oil and mix with a fork or your fingers -- there will be some small lumps, and that's fine. Drizzle in the cold water slowly, mixing with a fork.  When it comes together, knead it gently into a ball and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth.
Refrigerate while you make the filling.

To make the Filling:
Heat a large pot of water over high heat until it boils.

Add the sliced kale and boil for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat and place the lid on the pot. Let stand while you place the zucchini rounds and/or pattypan squash wedges and sliced onion on a baking sheet, and sprinkle them with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and mint.  Mix gently with your fingers and spread the mixture out again.  Place the the  baking sheet under your oven's broiler on High, about 4 inches below the heat source. Broil, watching carefully, until the vegetables begin to brown and are softened.

Immediately remove them from the oven and turn off the broiler. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Now drain the kale from the pot  in a colander and run cold water over it. Squeeze as much water out of the kale as possible. Combine the kale and zucchini/onion mixture in a mixing bowl.

In a blender or food processor, mix together the silken tofu, nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, starch or alternate, and miso until smooth.  Pour this into the bowl with the vegetables and mix gently. If you like, add some vegan Parmesan to taste-- a couple of tablespoons, if you like.

Spray or lightly brush a 14” pizza pan with oil and sprinkle lightly with flour.

On a floured surface (I use a large sheet of baking parchment sprinkled with flour) flatten the ball of Dough a bit and, using the “roll from the center forward, quarter turn, repeat” method, and flouring lightly as necessary, roll the dough out into a 18”-in-diameter round (doesn't have to be perfect!). This dough will roll out thinly quite nicely, but watch for tearing.

To transfer to the pan, sprinkle the round lightly with flour, fold loosely in half and then in half again. Transfer the dough carefully to the prepared pizza pan and carefully unfold the dough, which will overlap the edge of the pan by a few inches. (OR roll it up around the rolling pin, loosely, and transfer it to the pan by starting at the top of the pan and unrolling the pastry over the pan.) Evenly spread the Filling into a 12-inch circle in the center of the dough.

If you like, sprinkle the Filling with a handful of shredded vegan melting cheese.

Carefully bring the overlapping dough up around the filling, to make a freeform pie. Pleat the edges of the dough over the filling, leaving an open circle in the center. Brush or spray the dough lightly with oil.

Bake about 35 minutes, or until the torta is golden and starting to brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack. Cut the torta into 6 or 8 wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 377 calories, 136 calories from fat, 15.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 521.5mg sodium, 649.5mg potassium, 47.6g carbohydrates, 4.8g fiber, 2.9g sugar, 14.6g protein.



Mia said...

This looks lovely Bryanna. Thank you for sharing the recipe. My husband just found some Daiya cheese which is finally available where we live, so I can try this with the optional vegan cheese - hooray!

old_black said...

My daughter made this when I visited her for lunch yesterday. Wonderful!!