Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Dinner Party pt. 2 of 3: Torta Salata

The first time my friend Michael Ciancio made this for us in the fall, I declared it the best quiche I'd ever had. I have made several since then, and am now ready to declare it as one of my favorite dishes of all time. It is simple to make and visually stunning. This dish added needed protein to our dinner party menu, as well as some eye candy for the table.
Here, in his own words, is Michael to share his fabulous "Salty Cake" recipe.

Thanks Mae Lo for inviting me onto the blog! It's really an honor to be able to share this among so many other great recipes. I learned this one a few years ago while I was living abroad in Italy, from my good friend there–Valentina Carretta–an amazing product designer, and Treviso native. This recipe dates back for decades in her family and she was kind enough to share the basis of it with me. The best thing about the Torta Salata (literal translation into English = Salty Cake) is that you can really include whatever ingredients you want as long as you have the basics. It's a really great fall/winter dish, but you can absolutely change it up for any season. I'll give you the recipe for my favorite variation: zucchine e carote (zucchini and carrots). Other popular variations include raddicchio, spinach and tomato, or mushroom and prosciutto. Go ahead and follow this simple recipe, or create your own salty cake!
You will need:
1/2 chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 zucchini chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup of fresh ricotta
1/3 cup finely grated parmigiano cheese
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
olive oil
Pie dough for crust, and lattice (optional). I prefer Mae Lo's if you can get your hands on the recipe!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large saute pan and add the garlic and the onions. Saute until the onions start to become clear. Add the zucchini and the carrots and season with salt and pepper.
3. Lightly spray a standard 9" pie pan with your favorite non stick agent... Pam or whatever. Line the pan with your pie dough.
4. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, parmigiano, and the beaten egg. Once the vegetables are tender, add them to the egg/cheese mixture. Add freshly ground black pepper and a light pinch of salt. Don't over do it on the salt because you'll have already seasoned the vegetables and the parmigiano should already be quite salty.
5. Fill the pie with your vegetable/cheese/egg mixture evenly. Top off with your pie lattice if you chose to include it, tuck in the crust corners and crimp with a fork. Brush the lattice crust with an egg wash for even browning and a glossy finish. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper over top and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 min until crust is golden brown.
6. Garnish lightly with freshly chopped parsley.

Recommended salad
Spinach maple salad

Recommended wine
Montepulciano d'Abbruzzo

Thanks and buon appetito! Hopefully you'll all enjoy this easy dish and I can share some more findings with you soon.

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