Italian tortino

10 December 2017

Italian tortino

You don’t see much in English language blogs about the Italian egg-based pie tortino. I’m not sure why that is, because it’s quick and easy to make, and will take an endless variety of vegetable combinations. 

For my first one, I tried out Michael Romano’s aubergine, courgette and parmigiano version, from The Cook’s Book. Its most distinctive feature, as far as I can see, is the addition of 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the egg mix. This gives the finished pie a darker complexion and a nice tangy flavour that complements the veg nicely. But it would work perfectly well without, albeit it would be quite different.

I used one aubergine (eggplant), two courgettes (zucchini) and a large spanish onion - all roughly chopped.. Preheat the oven to a low 160ºC, or 140ºC for a fan oven. Heat some olive oil over a medium heat and gently sauté the onion until the onion is very tender. Then do the same for the aubergine for a few minutes, and add the courgettes. Sauté until the vegetables are cooked. Then mix them together and season, leave to cool.

Beat five eggs, and add 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 of olive oil, 240ml double cream (heavy cream) and 66g of grated parmesan, plus some seasoning. Mix it all together.

Grease a baking dish about 9in round or square, and add the vegetables and the batter all together. Cover it with foil, and bake for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and add enough additional grated cheese to lightly cover the top and finish baking for a further 15 minutes uncovered. When finished, you can give it some time under the grill to ensure the cheese topping turns nice and golden although mine didn’t really need that final step.

Once cooked, you need to allow the tortino 10 or 15 minutes to rest and fully set. Then serve with some salad or vegetables as desired. 

Ultimately, the joy of a dish like this is that it can be an easy go-to way to use up leftover vegetables, since the formula of nicely cooked veg bound together by a cheesy egg batter is endlessly adaptable. Having tried this one, I’m now inclined to explore some of my own variations. Really, it’s just like having a quiche but without the faff of having the pastry. That lack of fuss is also what makes it a perfect using-stuff-up dish.