In the U.S. when I hear the word pie the smell of baked fruit and cinnamon floods my nostrils. Visions of warm apples in a golden crust topped with melting vanilla ice cream come to mind. In Rome, I think of torta rustica or savory pie. It’s hard to imagine that the Romans made savory pie-like pastries during the Roman times and in Middle Ages. The crust was dense and hardly edible. Its main purpose was to keep meat moist during cooking.
Thankfully, today’s crust is moist and flaky and stuffed with vegetables, cheese and salami. Every season, I try different vegetable fillings and work on perfecting the crust. Artichoke and chard is my latest and favorite combo.
Ingredients for the filling
- 800 gr (28 oz) of chard, cleaned
- 6 – 8 artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 150 gr (5 oz) parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt & pepper to taste
Ingredients for the dough
- 500 gr (5 1/4 cups) of flour
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F/190 °C
Clean the chard. Parboil it for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Clean the artichokes; discard the tough outer leaves. Slice thinly and place in water with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saute pan, add chopped onion, let cook for approximately 5 minutes. Add the artichokes, salt and pepper and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until tender. Add the chard and let cook for 3 – 5 minutes.
Add the parmesan and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Mix the flour with olive oil, salt and a generous amount of water. You want the dough to be soft, elastic-like.
Grease a round baking pan (approximately 24 cm (9.5 in) in diameter) with oil. Roll out half of the dough in the shape of a circle. Place in pan, add filling; covering the dough evenly.
Top with the remaining dough in the shape of a disk or with strips in a lattice pattern. Seal the edges. If covering with a disk use a fork to prick the crust. In a pinch use pre-made dough.
Place in preheated oven for approximately 45 mins or until the crust is golden brown.
If you’re in Rome, stop by Al Vino Al Vino (Via dei Serpenti 19) for a glass of wine and slice of Giacomo’s homemade torta rustica. Delicious!