Greens are a very popular vegetable found across Umbria and commonly include rapini (broccoli rabe), bietola (swiss chard), or chicoria (chicory). Greens are commonly blanched, then drained and sautéed with olive oil, chili pepper, and garlic. These sautéed greens are then enjoyed as a vegetable side dish, or are used as fillings in sandwiches, to top pizza, stirred into eggs, or to toss with pasta. This rustic torta or tart is made with blanched greens and eggs, simply flavored with onions, pancetta, and garlic.
I prefer to use a combination of greens in this dish, often including a bunch of bietola (swiss chard), and a bunch of chicoria (chicory or dandelion) but any cooked greens you prefer would work, as long as you have about two pounds once they are trimmed before cooking. Coarsely chop the leaves, and cut the stems into pieces one inch or smaller so they blend well into the filling nicely.
This torta doesn’t have a pastry crust as you simply rub the dish with olive oil and then sprinkle it with breadcrumbs. The torta is then topped with more breadcrumbs and grated cheese, and once it’s baked it becomes fairly firm and is delicious served either warm or cold. You can use a 9 or 10 inch round tart pan, and cut the torta into wedges, or bake in a 9 inch square pan and cut into squares to serve on an antipasti tray.
Deborah Mele 2013
Torta di Erbe
For The “Crust” & Topping:
- 1 Cup Breadcrumbs
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil , Divided
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
For The Filling:
- 2 Pounds Greens (Any Combination of Swiss Chard, Chicory, Spinach, or Broccoli Rabe)
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion, Peeled, and Diced
- 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Pancetta or Bacon
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled, and Minced
- Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- 1/2 to 1 Teaspoons Red Hot Pepper Flakes
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Choose a deep 9 or 10-inch tart pan or casserole and spread two tablespoons of oil over the both and sides.
- Sprinkle half a cup of your breadcrumbs over the oil covering the bottom and sides of your dish.
- Wash greens, removing ends and retaining only tender stems.
- Coarsely chop the leaves and chop the stems into pieces one inch or smaller.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and once boiling, drop the greens into the water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the type of greens you use. (Spinach will cook much quicker.)
- Drain very well, squeezing out as much moisture as possible.
- In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and pancetta, and cook over medium heat until tender and beginning to brown, about five minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili flakes, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, mix well and cook another minute or two.
- Add the greens and toss to coat well with the seasoned onion mixture, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl use a fork to mix together the eggs and the half cup of grated cheese.
- Add the egg mixture into the cooked greens and stir to mix well.
- Pour the greens into your prepared dish and use the back of a spoon to spread evenly.
- Mix together the remaining half cup of breadcrumbs, half cup of grated cheese and tablespoon of olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Sprinkle this crumb mixture evenly over the top of the torta.
- Bake until set and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. (If the top begins to get too brown simply cover with aluminum foil.)
- Cool to room temperature before slicing