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Torta Verde (Swiss Chard and Potato Pie)

Though torte were once more common than pasta in Triora,  says Sandro Oddo, the savory pies were called pasta (pronounced “pashta”)-in this case meaning “meal”, because a torta was often all there was for dinner. We’ve found mild feta to be a reasonable substitute for the homemade tuma fresca used for this torta in Triora.

FOR DOUGH:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

FOR FILLING:

  • 8-10 large Swiss chard leaves, washed, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 medium russet potato, boiled, peeled, and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/4 cups crumbled mild feta
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1. For dough: Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle oil into flour, mixing with a fork, then sprinkle in up to 1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp. at a time, mixing until dough just holds together. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, then shape into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. For filling: Put chard in a colander, sprinkle with 1 1/2 tbsp. salt, toss to mix, and set aside to drain for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mix together potatoes, onions, parsley, and feta in a  bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Press chard against colander with a wooden spoon to squeeze out juices. Discard juices and add chard to potato mixture. Mix in eggs and 2 1/2 tbsp. oil and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly oil and flour a 14” round pizza pan. Divide dough into 2 balls, using two-thirds of dough for bottom crust and one-third for top crust. Roll out dough for bottom crust on a floured surface to about 15” in diameter, then use pizza pan as a template to trim crust to form a 14” round. Place bottom crust in pan. Evenly spread with filling, leaving 1” of crust exposed around edge. Roll out dough for top crust to 13” and place atop filling, allowing it to drape over edge of filling. Wet edge of bottom crust, fold in, and crimp to seal. Using a fork, pierce surface of torta several times to allow steam to escape during cooking. Then use your fingertips to gently indent surface of pie and drizzle with remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes.

Variation: To make a torta di funghi, or mushroom torta, trim and thinly slice 2 lbs. fresh porcini mushrooms or 2 1/2 lbs. portobello caps. Heat 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan over low heat. Add 4 minced peeled cloves garlic and sauté until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 30 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a colander and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Mix together mushrooms and 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley in a bowl and proceed with step 4 above. Serves 8

Source: Saveur, May/June 1998.

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