Whenever I am asked what a savory tart is, the Torta Rustica comes to mind first. Layers of vegetables and cheese encased in an Italian butter pastry that is easy to make and roll out without all the cautions of an American crust makes this not only good but easy. Torta Rustica simply means Rustic Tart in Italian. The spinach layer is highlighted with onions and asiago or parmesan cheese with eggs to bind it. Roasted red peppers and artichokes, both canned are layered along with provolone cheese.
The torta is from what the Italians refer to as cucina fresca, meaning room temperature. It should be served warmed but not hot. While it will freeze, it takes forever to thaw. If frozen, our recommended method for our customers was to let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of days, wrap it in foil, leaving the top somewhat open and heat it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
I make this every Monday as our lunch special at Anthony’s and it has been a hit ever since we first introduced it. The Torta Rustica is the perfect lunch with a side salad. It can be made days ahead and refrigerated, then warmed to serve.
1 small onion (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon oil 4- 10 ounce packages frozen, chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
2/3 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese (65 grams or 2 ounces)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (40 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
Line the bottom of a 9×2 inch round cake pan with parchment. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the flour and salt in a processor bowl. Process briefly to mix. Place the butter pieces in a circle over the flour. Process until mealy. Add the eggs and milk. Process until a ball forms. Remove 1 pound (455 grams or about 2/3) of pastry, shape into a ball and flatten into a circle. Repeat with the remainder of the pastry.
Spinach filling, above
Pasta Frolla, above
1 – 1# can red peppers, drained and patted dry
1 – 15 oz. can artichoke quarters, drained well
1/2 pound provolone, cut into 10 slices*
1 egg, well beaten
Roll the larger amount of pastry into a 14 inch round. Place in the prepared pan leaving an equal amount of overhang around the edges. Fit into the corners of the pan by pulling the dough on the side toward the center of the pan and laying it into the bottom and edge of the pan. Continue all the way around.
Note: This is good hot or room temperature. This also freezes well. However, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator 2 days ahead of heating and serving. To reheat; wrap the torta in foil, leaving an opening in the center. Heat at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
*I used a prepackaged deli sliced provolone. It had 10 slices in the 8 ounce package.