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Ricotta Broccoli Rape Torta

 I’m sorry I didn’t have this recipe for you sooner because this beautiful torta would have been perfect on your Easter table. I say this from firsthand knowledge because it was on our Easter table, thanks to my son Michael, who’s a terrific cook and who whipped this up in his kitchen as an appetizer before our Easter dinner.

 It was the perfect accompaniment to a glass of prosecco before the main event. But just because you missed out on eating this during Easter, doesn’t mean you can’t make it another time of year. It’s not only impressive in its presentation, but tastes pretty terrific too.
It’s loaded with pancetta, ricotta and broccoli rape (ok, for those of you thinking I misspelled this, please note that it’s not incorrect to say broccoli rape, since that’s the Italian spelling, or call it rapini, or broccoli rabe – they’re all correct.)
One of these tortas serves a lot of people, but the downside of having too many people share it is that you won’t have leftovers to eat for lunch the next day. So before it all disappears, tuck away a slice or two just for yourself.
Ricotta Broccoli Rape Torta

 

For the crust:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
18 tablespoons unsalted butter, well chilled or frozen
6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, well chilled or frozen
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice or unflavored vinegar
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water, just as needed
For the filling:
2 bunches rapini (“broccoli rape”)
2 lbs. part skim ricotta cheese, drained
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon fine dried bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the egg glaze:
1 egg yolk, beaten well with pinch of salt
Preheat an oven to 350 F.
Directions for the pie pastry
1. Combine the flour and salt and pulse a few times in a food processor to blend.
2. Add the cold butter and vegetable shortening and pulse only until the fat is cut into bits the size of peas.
3. Through the processor’s feed tube, add the egg and lemon juice or
vinegar, pulse once or twice, then add the ice water one tablespoon at a
time, pulsing once or twice between additions, only until dough begins
to show some clumps. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the inside
walls of the vessel. Do not form a dough ball on the blade.
4. Turn dough out onto a piece of wax paper (if it looks sandy and
dry, sprinkle on a tiny bit more water) and use your hands to bring it
together into a ball. It should hold the form of your fingers when
squeezed. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at
least 30 minutes or for up to 5 days until you are ready to make the
filling.
Note: If butter and vegetable shortening were frozen, dough can be rolled without prior chilling.
Directions for the filling
1. Wash the rapini in cold water, drain.
2. Detach and separate the stems from the tops of the vegetable. Set
the tops and the leaves aside. Using a small, sharp knife, peel any
especially tough skin from the thicker lower stalks, much like you would
peel the tough skin from the bottom of asparagus stalks.
3. Fill a large pot with plenty of water to cover all the greens and
bring to a rolling boil. Add the kosher salt and the peeled stems, cover
partially, and boil over high heat for 7 minutes. Now add the florets
and leaves and cook them together with the stems for 3 minutes more.
Drain the greens and allow them to cool. With your hands, squeeze out as
much water as you can. Chop them finely and set aside.
4. Warm a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and render most of the fat from pancetta. Remove the pancetta and add the onion to the pan. Adjust the heat to medium-low
and sauté until the onion is transparent, another 10 minutes. Stir in
the garlic and continue to sauté gently for about another 3 minutes
until it softens and the onions are lightly colored, but do not brown
the mixture. Stir in the rapini, along with the pancetta. Set aside to cool.
5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly and mix in the bread
crumbs, ricotta, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold in
the cooled rapini mixture, blending well.
6.  Select a springform pan.
Butter it lightly. Divide the chilled dough into two portions, one
slightly larger than the other. To use, roll out the larger ball of
dough on a lightly floured, wide sheet of parchment or waxed paper using
a floured rolling pin. Form an 11-inch round. Drape it around the pin
and transfer it to the pan. Press it gently onto the bottom and
sides.
7. Spoon in the filling.
8. Roll out the second ball of dough in the same manner into a
slightly smaller circle. Lay it over the filling. Crimp the edges
together to seal and trim off any excess to form an even edge. Cut several slashes in the top to allow steam to escape and decorate with extra pieces of dough, pressing them gently onto
the crust.
9. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven
until golden, about 1 hour, 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and
transfer it to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm,
cut into wedges.
Note: This pie keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Reheat it in an oven preheated to 350 F until warm throughout, 20 to 30
minutes.

 

This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Favolosa! Wasn't this just the greatest recipe? Julia della Croce is a master, and I think she did everyone a favor by posting this one. I just flipped when I saw your son Michael's pix on FB. He did a glorious job, and I bet everyone at your celebration meal was suitable impressed and then utterly sated.

  2. It really does look like a loverly pasqualina! I was planning on making one this year, as a matter of fact, but life intervened… and I opted for a soup instead. This beauty makes me wonder if I shouldn't have stuck with my original plan.

  3. Absolutely beautiful. However, had I eat a piece of that, with a glass of wine, that would be all I needed for dinner. That makes a substantial appetizer, to say the least. My mouth is watering from just ready the recipe.

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