A torte in French means “cake”. Traditionally thought of as a sweet dish prepared in a spring form pan. However, I have created a savory torte made up of layers of veggies, cheese and meat. The possibilities are endless on the ingredients you can use to create this. This thick pastry cake is stuffed with asparagus, fresh tomatoes, rosemary ham and havarti cheese. When the cake is cut, you have beautiful layers of green, red and yellow. It’s the perfect meal for a picnic at the beach or on the boat. You can make it up to two days ahead and serve it warm, at room temperature or cold.
TORTE ALFRESCO Rosemary Ham ~ Asparagus ~ Tomatoes ~ Havarti
In a food processor (with a dough blade) combine the flour, salt, rosemary, basil and parmesan. Slowly add the butter bits, blending or pulsing till mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the four eggs. Add the eggs to the flour mixture, slowly mixing or pulsing until eggs are incorporated. Add a tablespoon of cold water at a time until the dough forms a ball. You may not need all 3 tablespoons, or you may need a tablespoon or so more. Form dough into a disk shape and cover with wax paper. Refrigerate for one hour. You can also cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Allow dough to sit out at room temperature for at least one hour before rolling out.
Blanching the Asparagus:
In a large pot, bring salted water to a rolling boil. Submerge the asparagus for 3 minutes. Remove asparagus and place in ice bath. Once cooled, cut into one inch pieces and set to the side.
Note: To remove the tough lower stalk of the asparagus, with two hands bend the asparagus. It will break at the perfect point.
Prepping the Filling:
In a medium size bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a hand mixer. Add the ricotta cheese and combine with beaten eggs. Continue beating with the mixer until the cheese and eggs are incorporated. Set to the side.
Coarsely chop the ham slices and set to the side.
Cut the Havarti cheese into ¼ inch cubes and set to the side.
Slice the tomato and set to the side.
Making the Torte:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out two thirds of the pastry dough into a 16 inch circle. Sprinkle with a light layer of flour if your dough feels too sticky. Fold the dough in half and then in half again. Place dough in a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan and unfold. Trim the lower layer of pastry dough by rolling a rolling pin over the top of the pan.
Note: The dough has a good deal of butter in it so it may be difficult to roll out. No worries – just do your best to cover the bottom and edges of the pan. You’ll never notice any imperfections in the finished product.
Layer the ingredients into the pastry shell as follows:
All the asparagus,
Half the ricotta mixture,
Half the tomatoes,
Half the Havarti cheese,
All the rosemary ham,
Half the Havarti cheese,
Last half of the ricotta mixture,
Last half of the tomatoes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining pastry dough into a 10-11 inch circle. Place on top of the pan. Using the rolling pin along the top edge of the spring form pan, trim the top crust. Crimp the upper and lower pieces of pastry dough together to seal in the ingredients. Cut three vents in the top crust.
Baking the Torte
Beat egg and milk together to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash over top crust of torte.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Place foil over the top if it is golden brown. Bake another 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees. Let cool at room temperature before serving.
OTHER TORTA COMBINATIONS:
Replace: Ham, Havarti Cheese, Asparagus, Fresh Tomatoes
1. Prosciutto, Provolone, Swiss Chard, Sun Dried Tomatoes
2. Turkey, Jarlsberg, Broccoli, Roasted Red Pepper
3. Italian Sausage, Comte or Gruyere, Spinach, Peppadews
4. Portabella Mushroom, Goat Cheese, Artichokes, Roasted Garlic
WINE PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Spanish or French Rose, French Rose Champagne or Un-Oaked Chardonnay