This lovely silverbeet and potato torte originates in northern Italy. The cheese is supposed to be a fontina from the Italian Alps, but the first time I made the torte I substituted a well-made Australian cheddar. It was still delicious but I must admit that a cheese with a little more ‘stretch’ is a better choice. The torte would also be delicious made with a mild crumbly fetta. I have used rainbow chard from the garden instead of the silver beet, and the coloured stalks look very dramatic.
150 g young silver beet, or young rainbow chard
150 g potatoes
extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped
150 g ‘stretchy’ cheese, fontina, asiago, mozzarella, chopped or grated
freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
Olive oil pastry:
200 g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup cold water
To make the pastry, whizz flour and salt in a food processor. Drizzle in oil and then water. Process for about 1 minute until mixture forms a ball. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead for 2–3 minutes until supple and smooth. Put into a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Separate silverbeet stems from leaves. Wash and trim stems, then split them lengthwise and chop finely. Wash leaves, then roll them up and slice finely. Put stems and leaves into a colander and toss with 1 tablespoon salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil potatoes in lightly salted water for 15–20 minutes until tender, then drain, peel and dice.
Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly oil a 28 cm pizza tray. Quickly rinse silver beet and squeeze it dry in a clean tea towel. Combine silver beet with potato, onion, parsley and cheese, then add pepper to taste. Whisk egg with 1 tablespoon oil and add to silverbeet mixture. Taste for salt.
On a floured surface, roll out two-thirds of the pastry to a thin round that will easily cover the pizza tray. Spoon on filling, leaving a 2 cm border around pastry. Dampen border with water. Roll remaining pastry to a round a little smaller than the pizza tray and drape it over filling. Seal edges, then fold extra pastry from base over sealed edges and press together. Pierce top here and there with a fork and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Scatter with a little salt. Bake for 20–30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a tomato salad or other salad.
Variations This pastry is a delight to work with and can be used to make other savoury vegetable tortes. Try substituting a mixture of fried, drained wild and cultivated mushrooms for the silver beet. Or what about pumpkin, sweet potato or leftover risotto instead of the potato?