Photography Annabelle Hickson at Weekend with The Dailys, 2014.
If you ever walk into your vegetable garden and feel overwhelmed by the quantity of leafy greens at your fingertips then this recipe for Greens and Ricotta Torte is for you. I saved it from a Winter 2005 issue of Organic Gardener and the pages have the tell-tale signs of a much used recipe; butter stains, residues of flour, and paper crimped from dried, spilt moisture. It is a delicious way to use a large quantity and mixture of leafy greens. The original recipe calls for predominantly spinach, but I take pleasure in walking among the rows and breaking off stems of whatever is abundant in our garden, usually silverbeet, broccoli, kale and sometimes even spinach.
I must warn you this recipe is not popular with children. Even though we have vegetables picked from the garden as part of our evening meal nearly every day, our boys will not come at this Greens and Ricotta Torte even with ice cream as an after dinner tempter. But adults love it. I’ve cooked this recipe for adult writing retreats I hosted in the past with my girlfriend and neighbour Nicola and have been asked for the recipe. It is an easy dish to prepare for vegetarians and is also a lovely addition to an antipasto platter.
The buttery pastry is easy to make and has a beautiful taste and texture with the addition of the sour cream. In fact it is so good I usually make double the quantity so I don’t have to scrimp. Being the festive season the Greens and Ricotta Torte would make a great addition to the Christmas table or to take along to a gathering with friends. Let’s hope there’s plenty of opportunity for that over summer.
Greens and Ricotta Torte
Pastry (I usually double this quantity): Ingredients – 200g plain white flour, 100g unsalted butter, pinch salt, 1 generous tbsp sour cream, iced water.
1. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add the sour cream and just enough iced water to bind it all together.
3. Knead lightly for a few minutes then dust very lightly with flour, wrap in greaseproof paper or plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
4. Cut two-thirds of the pastry. Roll out on a floured board (I love to use an old marble topped kitchen table) and use to line a fairly deep (6cm) tart or pie tin. I use a deep sided cake tin with a removable base.
Filling: Ingredients – 450g green leaves, 400g ricotta, 6 tbsp grated parmesan, 3 eggs, 1 large onion, 3 tbsp olive oil, sprig tarragon or other herbs at hand, salt, pepper, nutmeg.
1. Wash the greens well and cook separately. Drain well. When cool, place in a tea towel (not your favourite), squeeze excess moisture out of leaves, and chop finely.
2. Dice the onion finely and cook gently in two tablespoons of the olive oil until very soft and golden. Allow to cool.
3. Mash the ricotta with a fork and whisk well before adding cooled chopped onion and chopped greens.Add chopped tarragon (or other herbs) then beat in the three eggs. Add five tablespoons of parmesan and mix well.
4. Sprinkle the extra tablespoon of parmesan on top of the mixture, then use the left over pastry to make a lid for the torte.
5. Put in a round, well oiled baking tin with the remaining olive oil and bake in a moderate oven for about 50 minutes, until cooked. It will cook like a cake, rising and with the edges pulling away when it is ready. Leave to cool enough to un-mould, then cut into wedges before serving. As good warm as it is cold.
Originally from Rita Erlich & Alice Murkies Colour Me Healthy: Why You Should Eat Almost Everything.