Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cielo Chiaro Special: Torta Vegetariana

One of our favorite cookbooks (and probably the most used back home) is the Silver Spoon. It’s a vast tome of Italian cooking, with a focus on what Italians actually cook (as opposed to some chef spinning Italian ideas into new dishes). Our pals KT and Ed gave it to us for a wedding present, and we’ve given it as a wedding present a couple times since then—it’s ideal for any couple (or person, so as not to exclude my single friends) that digs the Italian flavors. One of our favorite recipes (along with the pizza dough recipe and others) is for a cabbage pie, or “torta.” We recently made a version of it here, even (we had to track down the dough recipe to get it just right—it has to be very flaky and rich), adapting it a bit to veggies we had on hand, and then end result both tasted wonderful, and looked divine:
Torta Vegetariana


250 grams butter at room temperature (or two cups, see Note)
250 grams flour (or two cups, see Note)
1-1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 medium head fennel, chopped
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano


1. Mix the butter and flour together until they are combined into a smooth dough. Separate into two pieces, with one slightly larger. Using a Strega bottle (see Pic below) or rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s a quarter inch thick. Put the larger piece into a pie pan or baking dish—it should cover the bottom and sides.

2. Place the remaining butter and oil into a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for five minutes, stirring regularly.

3. Add the carrots to the skillet, and sauté for a couple minutes, and then add the fennel and cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down the medium, stir, and let sauté for a few minutes. Then cover (I like to leave an edge open) and let sweat and cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. You don’t want anything to burn, so watch the heat. You do want everything cooked well.

4. Remove the veggies from the heat, and adjust the seasonings if desired. While they cool a bit, make a layer of sliced eggs on your dough in the pan. You can really have your layers in almost any order, but it’s nice to have something to do while the veggies cool a stitch.

5. Once the egg layer is in, layer the veggies on top of the eggs. Then, make a layer with the cheese.

6. Place the remaining piece of rolled out dough on top of the pie, crimping the top and bottom layers together to make a complete whole. Place it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. It should be hot throughout, and have a nicely done crust. I think it’s best to have it sit for a five minutes before serving.

A Note: No matter what measurement you use, just be sure to have equal amounts butter and flour.

A Pic: Here is how versatile Strega is, as it is not only fantastic to drink, but works to roll dough in a pinch (here you also notice Nat’s awesome ingenuity in action, and can check out the Strega anniversary bottle):

*See more specials: Penne e Noce, Zuppa di Pomodoro e’ Fagioli, Italian Burgers

*See all Cielo Chiaro Specials

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