PORTLAND, Maine — This one will get you breakfast, lunch, snack and/or dinner for a couple of days! In fact, it tastes even better after a day or two. Knowing how to work dough and also how to throw together a filling (for pasta, torta or anything else you might conjure up) are valuable skill sets to have for most any occasion or season. Keep in mind, practice is the only way forward and humility is key. Work slow and make real, tasty food!
Torta di Bietole
500g '00' flour (approximately 4 cups)
15g salt (approximately two and a half teaspoons)
250mL water, sometimes 300mL water, depending on humidity (250 mL is one cup)
100mL extra virgin olive oil (approximately one third cup)
While kneading your dough, you will want to bring it to the point where water and flour create a firm, smooth texture. Let dough rest 30 minutes, covered with a damp towel in the fridge. Create 3 equally sized balls from that dough and rest those again 30 minutes before rolling. In the meantime, make your filling.
large bunch of white chard, chopped roughly
5 tbsp fresh ricotta, fresh from a local farm is best
2 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp '00' flour
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
Mix to integrate your filling. Once your dough is ready, you will need a 1" deep sheet pan (circular 12" diameter is ideal) ready and the oven preheated to 375. Have a small bowl of flour at your side for the rolling (sprinkle some on counter so dough doesn’t stick when rolling). When using a rolling pin, be sure to use your body weight. The best rolling pins are one long contiguous piece of wood. The importance of the resting time is that it allowed the dough to bind and become nicely malleable. Once your dough is rolled thin enough, you might even experiment with taking it into THE BACK OF YOUR HANDS (have a dusting of flour on your hands like the countertop so dough doesn’t stick) and spreading it evenly so that it fits well over the circumference of your pan (by a couple of inches). You made three balls of dough in case you need to scrap and restart one of the sheets. The first rolled sheet will line the pan. Then you will add your filling and spread evenly. The second rolled sheet will go on top of your filling and pinch with the first sheet to seal the edges. If you watched the episode with Paolo, you will notice his effort to capture air underneath this top layer and quickly pinching to seal. This will result in a beautiful domed torta when it is done baking. At this point you are ready to bake. With the oven preheated to 375, bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top and some pea shoots to garnish.