Over the summer I ordered a few Italian cookbooks, and have been obsessed with not only reading them but also trying out some recipes. One of the dishes that caught my eye almost immediately was this savoury pie or ‘Torta Rustica’.
According to the book Tasting Rome, this pie is often seen on the menus of wine bars and local bakeries in Rome. The fillings of the pie change through the year based on the season and most of the ingredients are grown in the Roman countryside.
The pastry I have used for the recipe is a standard one in the proportions of 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part water. You want to use really cold butter cut into small cubes. Use your fingers to melt the butter into the flour, to form a breadcrumb like mixture. And then pour in the water, in parts till the dough comes together. Before setting it in the pan, you want to allow the dough to rest well.
I’ve changed the recipe up a bit, due to the lack of availability of certain ingredients, and I also left out the carrot coz I really wasn’t feeling it. This is isn’t the exact Torta Rustica you’d see in Rome, but simply a version of it.
For the pie:
- Spinach leaves, cut into ribbons
- Kale leaves, cut into ribbons (the recipe calls for Chard and Dandelion greens along with the spinach)
- Onion, finely chopped
- Flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Parmesan, grated
In a large pot of boiling water, add salt. Once it has dissolved, add the spinach and kale, and blanch lightly.
In a pan, heat some olive oil and add the onions. Cook until translucent and add the green vegetables.
Transfer to a bowl, and allow the greens to cool. Add the parsley, ricotta, parmesan, egg and pepper. Mix well. I would suggest adding in one egg first, and then if required a second.
Line the tart tin with your rested pastry and blind bake at 180C for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the baking beans and parchment paper and bake for another 5 minutes.
Evenly spread the filling into the tin and begin work on the lattice for the pie.
You want to roll out the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper until its about 3mm in thickness. Using a ruler and sharp knife, cut long strips of the pastry. Depending on the size of your tin, you want to lay down the strips of pastry. Start by arranging the strips vertically, spacing them evenly. Carefully fold back every alternate strip. Lay down a strip horizontally at the point you have folded back. Unfold the folded strips and fold back the other strips about halfway, those that hadn’t been previously folded. Repeat the process until the entire pie is covered.
Using a sharp knife trim away the excess pastry.
Using a pastry brush apply an egg wash onto the latticework and edges and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180C.
Allow the pie to rest for about 30 minutes before serving since it tastes its best at room temperature.