Torta di Spinaci

Spinach Torta

Ingredients

  • pounds fresh spinach
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, skinned raw with a peeler and diced into ¼-inch cubes; or 1 cup canned Italian peeled plum tomatoes, drained and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped pancetta
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • Salt
  • cup raw rice, unwashed
  • cups Homemade Meat Broth, or ¾ cup canned beef broth diluted with ¾ cup water
  • A 10-inch Springform pan
  • ½ cup toasted, unflavored bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Trim away the thicker part of the spinach stems. Soak the spinach for 5 to 6 minutes in a large basin of cold water. Scoop the spinach out, throw out the water and the soil deposit, refill the basin with fresh water, and put the spinach back to soak. Continue to soak in fresh changes of water until no more soil settles at the bottom of the basin. Drain, cut the spinach into large pieces, and set aside.
  2. Choose a pot that can subsequently accommodate the spinach, tomatoes, and rice, put in the vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter, turn on the heat to high, and put in the tomatoes. Sauté the tomatoes for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the pancetta and the chopped garlic and continue sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the spinach and salt and cook, stirring from time to time, until the spinach wilts.
  5. Add the rice. Cook it in the uncovered pan, stirring frequently and moistening it from time to time with a little broth, until the rice is half done, about 15 minutes. It should be tender enough to be chewable, but with a hard, chalky core. Pour the entire contents of the pot into a bowl and allow to cool completely.
  6. Turn on the oven to 375°.
  7. Smear a 10-inch Springform pan with a tablespoon of butter and dust with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs.
  8. When the ingredients in the bowl are cold, add the eggs, beating them in thoroughly one at a time. Add the remaining tablespoons of butter, grated cheese, and nutmeg and mix well. Taste and correct for salt.
  9. Transfer the contents of the bowl to the Springform pan and sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Bake in the uppermost level of the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The torta is done when a toothpick poked into it comes out dry.
  10. Unhinge and remove the side band of the pan. When the torta becomes a little cooler and firmer, loosen it from the bottom piece of the pan and transfer it to a serving platter. Serve lukewarm.

Serving Suggestions

A delicious choice for a simple lunch, preceded by a plate of good, cold, boiled ham or prosciutto, mild salami, or other cold meats accompanied by pickled vegetables. It is clearly a good choice for a buffet.

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