I cook a lot of greens in my house, whether we are in Umbria or in North America, and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. I’ve made savory tarts with greens and eggs, and greens and ricotta cheese, but this is my first try at making a torta with greens and rice. This recipe originates from Piedmonte, and the official name is Torta Verde del Monferrato. The recipe as shown actually makes a very large pie that would easily feed 8 or more and might be a great idea for a potluck or picnic. The next time I make this torta, I think I’ll cut the recipe in half since I’m feeding just two of us most of the time.
You can serve this savory tart warm or at room temperature, and although I’ve added a fresh chopped tomato sauce to serve along with my version, the pie can be served simply on it’s own. I used spinach this time, but next time I may try bietole (swiss chard), which would work out just as well. Since it is a Northern Italian recipe it would be made with Parmesan cheese, but here in Umbria we tend to prefer Pecorino Romano cheese which is what I chose to use, though either cheese would work just fine. I also used onions instead of leeks, and added just a little pancetta into the mix because we all know that anything with bacon is better. If you want to prepare a vegetarian version of this pie, simply exclude the bacon.
Deborah Mele 2014
Spinach & Rice Crustless Pie
A traditional recipe from Piedmonte made with a little Umbrian twist.
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
- 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Pancetta (Or Bacon)
- 1 Kg Fresh Spinach (About 2 1/4 Pounds)
- 1 1/2 Cups Rice
- 5 Cups Homemade Broth, Kept Warm (Chicken or Vegetable)
- 5 Eggs
- 1 1/2 Cups Grated Pecorino Cheese (Or Grated Parmesan)
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 3/4 Cup Breadcrumbs
- 3 Cups Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled & Finely Minced
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease the sides and bottom of a 12 inch spring-form pan, and then sprinkle in 3/4 of the breadcrumbs.
- Turn the pan from side to side to coat the sides and bottom with the crumbs.
- Reserve the remaining breadcrumbs for the top.
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the onion and pancetta and cook until the onion is translucent, and the pancetta is lightly browned.
- In a separate pan, wilt the spinach over low heat, then squeeze out all excess liquid, chop, and set aside.
- Add the rice to the onions and toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring continually.
- Add a ladle full of the broth and stir, cooking and adding broth as the rice cooks until it is al dente.
- Add the spinach to the rice and mix well, then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Reserving one egg yolk, lightly beat the rest of the eggs, and then stir these into the rice mixture along with the grated cheese and oregano.
- Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Pour the rice mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon.
- Lightly beat the remaining egg yolk and brush it across the top of the torta, then sprinkle on the remaining breadcrumbs.
- Bake the torta for 55 minutes to an hour until set.
- While the torta is baking, mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Serve the torta warm or at room temperature in slices with a scoop of the tomato topping.
Adapted from The Taste of Italy