torta di foglie verdi
green leaf pie
I love this time of the year for all the winter greens growing in the veggie patch. Silverbeet, spinach, cavolo nero, cime di rapa, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, broccoli, lettuce leaves and more. They all just seem to thrive on the crisp fresh mornings and chilly cold nights! Of course, many predominantly eat the leaves of silverbeet, spinach, cavolo nero and cabbage, however, it’s absolutely ideal to eat the leaves of all the other vegetables mentioned above too!
The leaves of broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, fennel fronds, and cime di rapa are all edible (but just remember to never eat rhubarb leaves – those ones are poisonous!). No waste is in my blood (with my Italian heritage) where every part of every ingredient is employed, and why wouldn’t you use the leaves of all these vegetables when the health benefits are so high, and too, the flavour. The stems are magnificent as well – why not pickle a cauliflower stem?!?! You can use all your green leaves in soups, pasta dishes, frittata, torte (pies) and more! You are truly limitless!
This torta I share with you today, a made a few weeks ago now and posted it on my instagram page with many asking for its recipe. I usually make this pie with all the above mentioned green leaves, however, on this particular day, I decided upon silverbeet and cavolo nero – I truly had an abundant amount that needed to be consumed. Additionally, I can vary the other pie fillings; I may add in some bacon or goats cheese, leek, red onion, or whatever is basically sitting in my fridge or garden that needs eating! I love that this pie is so versatile and can be made to expend vegetables and ingredients on hand.
This pastry recipe is one that I use often for my savoury pies. It is a revised version of Matthew Evans’s (from Fat Pig Farm in Tasmania) yoghurt pastry recipe. It includes Greek style natural yoghurt – I use my own homemade natural yoghurt here and I love that I can do that! In addition, this pastry is layered with butter which is rubbed into the flour to aid in the flakiness of the pastry once cooked in the oven. Consequently, I always bake this pie in my medium size cast iron pan – the cast iron pan holds a hot even heat, which results in a pastry that is golden brown all over (eliminating soggy pastry base) and a flaky short bite from top to bottom. However, if you don’t have a cast iron pan, just use whatever pie tin you have! Just ensure your oven is really hot before entering the pie!
A flaky yoghurt pastry that is delicious!Buon appetito!
Yoghurt Pastry Ingredients:
• 300g unbleached plain flour
• 200g butter, unsalted, cold, diced
• 200g natural yoghurt, Greek style, chilled
• ½ tsp sea salt, fine
Green Leaf Pie Filling Ingredients:
• 1 very large bunch of silverbeet, stalks removed, washed, sliced into large strips.
• 1 very large bunch of Tuscan kale (cavolo nero), stalks removed, washed, sliced into large strips.
• 2 tblsp olive oil
• 3-4 garlic cloves, skin removed, finely chopped
• 1 large brown onion peeled and finely diced
• 4-5 rashers of bacon (optional), roughly cut into 2cm pieces
• 1 large bunch parsley leaves, finely chopped
• 300g – 400g fresh firm ricotta, (strain any liquid)
• 5 whole eggs, free range, lightly whisked
• Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
• Egg-wash (made of one egg & a dash of milk)
• Lemon wedges
- FOR THE PASTRY:
- Place flour & sea salt into a medium to large bowl. Add diced cold butter and rub the butter into the flour using your finger-tips until the mixture forms breadcrumbs (or as prefer to say ‘pecorino crumbs’)!
- Make a well in the centre of the crumb and add the yoghurt. Mix this gently through with your hands or a fork until if just forms a dough.
- Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and using your hands, form a round flattened (about 1.5 - 2cm thick) dough. Wrap in wax paper or cling wrap (I use a compostable cling wrap which I dispose of in my compost) and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight if possible. Move onto filling.
- FOR THE FILLING AND TO ASSEMBLE:
- Preheat oven to 190°C (convention oven, or 175°C for fan-forced)
- Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil. Then add in the onion with a good pinch of sea salt and allow to cook until the onion becomes translucent. Then add in the bacon and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes or until the bacon is just cooked. Remove from pan into a heat proof bowl.
- Now add to the same large saucepan all the silverbeet and cavolo nero (NOTE: you can substitute or add other green leaves here if you wish). Cover with a lid to allow the moisture to wilt the green leaves – this will only take a minute or so! Remove the leaves from the saucepan, strain in a colander and allow to cool. Then using your hands, squeeze out any additional liquid. Place in the bowl with the cooked bacon, onion and garlic.
- Now add to this bowl - parsley, ricotta, eggs, and seasoning with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mix well till all combined. Set aside.
- No need to grease your cast-iron pan (I use a 24cm cast iron pan) or pie tin (unless you know you need to for your pie tin!!!). Take the yoghurt pastry out of fridge 10 minutes before rolling it out (especially in winter). Roll the pastry dough out on a lightly floured surface until you obtain a 35cm round disc that is about 5mm thick. You need to ensure you have about a 5cm edge to fold over the filling to create a border which will partially cover the filling.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the pastry border with the egg-wash. Then place in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown all over (including the base of the pastry) and cooked through the middle of the filling.
- Serve straight from the cast-iron pan or pie tin with a crisp light salad and fresh lemon wedges.