I don’t call this recipe a quiche because the method used for the Italian torta salata is slightly different. For these sort of homemade savoury tarts, Italians don’t add eggs to the short crust pastry, unlike the French. Also, a quiche will require the mixture of creme fraiche with the egg inside the filling, while in torta salata we use cheese (usually ricotta or chewy cheese like mozzarella or sweet provola) as the main ingredient that brings the flavours together. Admittedly, I had never made a torta salata before, and I was a bit disappointed with the results of this recipe, inspired by this one on Giallo Zafferano. I felt that the pastry should have been blind baked before adding the ingredients, as the bottom of my tart stayed very white, even if the top crust was well cooked. It was crispy and had a nice texture, but I decided not to use pancetta, so that my vegetarian friends could also eat it. This made the flavours a little bland, because I didn’t think to use a stronger flavoured cheese to make up for it.
Overall, I suggest you blind bake, and if like me you want this recipe to be vegetarian, choose a type of cheese that will bring out the flavours rather than making them shy away.
For the short crust:
130g room temperature water
250g type 00 flour
30g extra virgin olive oil
15g white wine vinegar
A generous sprinkle of thyme
For the filling:
1 small onion
20g extra virgin olive oil
4 medium eggs
120g sweet Provola or Scamorza
50g grated parmesan
160g pancetta (which I didn’t use)
Salt & pepper
Step 1 – Start from you shortcrust. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the thyme. Then add the salt and vinegar. Start mixing it with your hands and add the oil, keeping on mixing until it’s properly incorporated with the flour.
Step 2 – Now add the water gradually and knead the dough until you have a smooth homogeneous texture. Cover the bowl with some cling film and let it rest at room temperature for at least 40 minutes.
Step 3 – While the dough is resting, prepare your filling. Chop your onion very finely. Then chop the courgettes in fine round slices.
Step 4 – In a frying pan, warm up the oil, and fry the onion until soft. Then add the courgettes and, if you are using it, the pancetta in cubes. Add salt, pepper and cover with a lid, letting the courgettes cook for ten minutes on a medium heat. Once they are cooked, let them cool on a side.
Step 5 – Place your pastry on a lightly floured surface, and use a rolling pin to stretch it to 4 mm thickness.
Step 6 – Prepare an oven dish with a 28 cm diameter by covering the surface in butter, and then place the stretched pastry on the dish, making sure it fits through the bottom and the borders. At this point, as mentioned in my introduction, I would suggest you blind bake the pastry for 10-15 minutes, just so that the bottom won’t become too soggy when you add the ingredients – as it happened to me as the ingredients are quite wet.
Step 7 – After you blind bake, add the courgettes, which now should be cool. Then, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs and mix them with the grated parmesan. Add the mixture to the pie.
Step 8 – Chop the cheese into small cubes and spread the cubes throughout the filling of your tart. Now place it back in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the filling is fully baked. Let it cool down before serving.