Looking through my refrigerator the other day, I saw we were overflowing with eggs and spinach so I knew I had to create something to use them up. Our three chickens are laying three eggs daily, and although that may not seem like a lot of eggs, unless I use them each and every day I find I quickly have an egg surplus. We also have a friend who has an organic garden nearby and he has been bringing us bags full of fresh spinach every couple of days. Although I do love spinach, I have so far sautéed it, used it in a soup, a pasta, and a frittata. I even steamed a huge bag full and divided it up into packages for my freezer, but I still had some spinach that I needed to use up quickly. I also had a container of sheep’s milk ricotta cheese I had picked up at the market that morning, so I decided a nice savory tart was in order. When I am in a rush, I like to skip the step of making a pastry crust and I simply oil my baking dish and sprinkle it with bread crumbs like I did in this recipe, which works out great in place of the traditional pastry. I flavored my torta with some sautéed onions, pancetta, and some grated pecorino cheese and ended up with a nice savory tart that could be enjoyed at breakfast, or lunch.
To sauté my spinach, I simply blanch it briefly in boiling water, then press very well to drain it. I then add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a frying pan with 1 minced garlic clove, salt, pepper, and a pinch or red pepper flakes. I cook the spinach in this mixture for a minute or two until the spinach is well seasoned and has absorbed all the oil. I then serve my spinach or use it in recipes such as this one. To drain your ricotta, simply place it in a sieve over a bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to remove any excess liquid. My photos may look very golden yellow in color but that is simply because the yolks of Italian eggs are more orange in color than North American eggs.
Deborah Mele 2012
For The Pan:
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
- 1/3 Cup Diced Pancetta
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 10 Ounces Sautéed Spinach (See Above)
- 8 Ounce Ricotta Cheese, Drained (See Above)
- 4 Large Eggs, Lightly Beaten
- 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino Cheese (Or Parmesan)
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lightly grease an 8 inch spring-form pan with the olive oil, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, turning the pan from side to side to ensure all sides are covered in crumbs.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil, then cook the onions and pancetta over medium heat until the onions are soft and the pancetta has begun to brown, about 5 minutes, then cool to room temperature.
- In a bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix together the spinach, ricotta, eggs, grated cheese, salt and pepper.
- Mix the onion mixture into the cheese and eggs and stir well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until set, and the center is firm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature, then slice and serve.