Piedmontese Easter Pie

Torta Verde

This delicious savoury pie is served in honour of the Easter festivities in Piedmont, especially on Easter Monday, when all over Italy it is traditional to go on picnics in the countryside. Like most of the savoury pies in this section of the book, it is ideal picnic fare. Serve it warm, in generous slices.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • oz (90 g) butter
  • 1 large leek, finely chopped
  • 2 oz (50 g) bacon fat, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • lb (1 kg) fresh or frozen spinach, coarsely chopped
  • salt
  • 5 oz (150 g) pudding rice
  • pints (1 litre) hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pinches ground mixed spice
  • 3 tablespoons stale breadcrumbs

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Put the oil and approximately oz (40 g) of the butter into a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add the leek and stir gently, cooking until the leek begins to colour. Add the bacon fat and the garlic and continue to stir to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. When the leek and garlic are soft and pale golden, add the spinach and stir together. Add 2 pinches of salt and cover with a lid. When the spinach is cooked through - it will take about 8 minutes - add the rice and stir.

Cook like a normal risotto, adding 1 ladleful hot stock, stirring and waiting for it to be absorbed before adding any more. After 20 minutes the rice should be tender and cooked through. Remove from the heat and add the eggs, Parmesan, spice and another pinch of salt. Mix together thoroughly.

Generously butter an 11 inch (28 cm) cake tin, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and turn it upside down to remove any excess. Reserve the excess breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture into the tin, smooth it flat and dot with the remaining butter.

Scatter with the reserved breadcrumbs. Bake for about 1 hour or until golden and set.

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