Tag Archives: Pie

Tortino al Cavolo Nero (Kale Pie)

19 Nov

Italian savory pies have been around since ancient times, even Pre-Christian, and are linked to the farmers’ traditions.  They are made with simple and fresh ingredients available during the growing season.  If tomato is Italy’s summer vegetable, cabbage is definitely the winter vegetable.  Kale pie is a true veggie lover’s delight.  Tuscan kale, also called black leaf kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, appears in the markets in November and continues through spring.  It is one of the oldest vegetables in the cabbage family.  It is a leafy cabbage that resembles palm fronds with deep greenish black leaves and pronounced ribs.  It has an intense cabbage-y flavor, but is generally sweeter than other varieties.  It is the basic of ingredient of many other tasty dishes such as soups (i.e Tuscan Ribollita), stews and omelets, and it is delicious on crostini di pane, too.  You can enjoy it also raw in salads.  Kale is highly nutritional vegetable, rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, folic acid (if consumed raw) and potassium.  Kale pie can be served either as an antipasto (starter) or a main course.


Preparation Time: 1 ½ hrs                  Baking Time: 40-45 min.                  Servings: 8

Pasta brisee (Brisee crust)
250 g (1 ½ cups)  flour 00
120 g (about ½ cup, 4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 egg yolk
60 ml (¼ cup) ice-cold water
¼ teaspoon salt

700 g (about  1 ½ pounds) kale
6 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 cups water
120 g (¾ cup) goat ricotta cheese
3 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C (350 °F)

Pasta brisee (Brisee crust)

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt
  2. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time.  Add the egg yolk until mixture forms a ball
  4. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


  1. Wash the kale, remove center ribs and stems, cut the leaves crosswise into ½-inch strips
  2. In a large skillet on medium heat sauté the onion with olive oil until onion is softened
  3. Add the kale, stir it to combine with the onion.  Season with salt and add 2 cups of water
  4. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally and adding some water if the pan begins to dry out.  Cook for about 35 minutes until kale leaves are tender.  Set aside and let cool
  5. In a large ball mix the eggs with the ricotta cheese.  Add the vegetable mix and season with freshly ground pepper.  Set aside.

Once the dough has rested, flatten it out on a lightly floured board, then transfer to a on a 24 cm (10 in) ceramic or glass pie or tart baking dish.  Gently pat the pastry dough in the pan to 4 mm (less than ¼ in) thickness, to line the bottom and sides.  The edge should have a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 5 mm. 

Prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork (four or five times is sufficient), then spread with the vegetable mix and bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes.  It is delicious when eaten freshly baked and a little bit warm. 

Note: When purchasing kale you want leaves that are not too long (no longer than 50 cm, 18 in), firm and fairly, evenly colored without brown or yellow spots.  The most tender kale are the ones harvested in late autumn and early winter after the first frosts.  –Paola


Crostata con Confettura (Jam Pie)

6 Oct

…..The crostata is perhaps  the oldest Italian dessert.  A popular tradition traces the origin of this Italian pie to the ancient Romans. This is the first kind of baked dessert that, as little girl, I learned to make from my mother.  It evokes memories of many happy hours spent with her in the kitchen preparing delicious food. This Italian version of an American pie can be prepared by using different ingredients such as jam, fresh fruit, ricotta cheese, chocolate (kids love a Crostata di Nutella) and pudding. It can satisfy a wide variety of palates! In Italy, it is not only eaten as a dessert, but often for breakfast too, with a hot cup of espresso or capuccino, or with tea in the afternoon.

Preparation time: 1 h               Baking time: 40 min.           Servings: 6-8

300 g flour (245 g (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour and 55 g (⅓ cup) potato starch)
5 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder

100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
130 g (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
grated zest of half lemon
350 g (1 cup) jam (fig, plum, strawberry, raspberry, peach and etc..)

Preheat the oven to 170°C (350 °F)
To make crostata you first need to prepare the “pasta frolla”:

  1. Cream the butter
  2. Combine all the ingredients, handling them as little as possible
  3. Wrap the dough (the pasta frolla) in wax paper and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, on a lightly floured board roll (or gently pat the pastry dough in the pan) ⅔ of the pastry dough to 4 mm (a little less than ¼ in) thickness, to line the bottom and sides of 24 cm (10 in) springform pan. 

The edge should have a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 5 mm (¼ in).  Prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork (four or five times is sufficient), then spread with the jam on the pasta frolla.  Roll the remaining pastry on a lightly floured board (3 mm), then with a sharp knife or pastry cutter cut it in strips (5 mm) wide and make a lattice top on the layer of jam. There might be some leftover pastry.

Bake the crostata until golden, about 35 minutes. Unmold the pie as soon as it is ready and let it cool on a rack. If left in the pan it will turn irremediably soggy.  It is great freshly baked but it definitely improves after a day if kept in a closed container.


Note: Usually the crostata crust is quite hard.  I prefer a tender, fluffy crust.  My recipe calls for starch,  baking powder (a leavening agent) and creaming the butter; all contribute to making the dough lighter.  A note on the jam: select a jam that is relatively low in sugar, or prepare your own.   For example the crostata in the picture has fig jam on top (see the recipe in the fig jam post).  Jams that contain a higher percentage of sugar tend to be negatively affected by the baking temperatures, turning sticky and ruining the final result.  -Paola

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