So, imagine your favourite pasta ingredients but instead of boring, old pasta, they’re layered in a deep dish, buttery pie crust. That’s it, that’s all an Italian torta is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with my own two eyes, but a friend suggested I try it out. Having just made a fantastic tomato-less marinara sauce for my tomato allergic husband, it was as good a time as any to pull out all the stops.
This is a show stopping main course, perfect for a special occasion, a romantic evening or company; beautiful, savoury, filling and comforting. It’s also highly adaptable, just layer with all your favourite baked pasta fillings. For my best tips on gluten-free pastry, you can go here. If you’re unable to eat tofu, you might consider making a cashew ricotta filling, which simply replaces the tofu with soaked cashews that have been pulsed in a food processor. We don’t use nuts very often here, as they’re one of the most common and dangerous allergens, though.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese
1/4 cup non-dairy cream cheese
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Using a food processor, blender or tremendous arm strength, cream together the ingredients, until smooth and light. Set aside.
Garlic Herb Mushrooms
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon non-dairy margarine
1 lb (454 grams) small button mushrooms, halved or quartered
Pinch of dried rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
4 – 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Heat oil and margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and herbs and toss to coat. Add the lemon juice and garlic and sautee until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
1 lb firm or extra firm tofu, finely crumbled
4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 shallot, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium sized bowl, finely crumble the tofu. Grate the garlic and the shallot over the bowl on to the tofu. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Set aside.
Pate brisee or puff pastry, enough to cover a 9×3 springform pan, top and bottom
Pumpkin Cream Cheese, see above
Garlic Herb Mushrooms, see above
Tofu Ricotta, see above
2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted and well drained
1 cup marinara, your favourite
Unsweetened non-dairy milk, for brushing the pastry
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll out the pastry dough of your choice, to about an 1 cm thick. The bottom layer will need to be quite large, so as to accommodate the high sides of the pan. Carefully press into the bottom and up the sides, pinch together the excess along the rim of the pan. Spread the pumpkin cream cheese mixture at the bottom, and layer the remaining ingredients in the order they appear. Brush the pastry rim with some non-dairy milk and cover with the top layer of pastry, lightly pinching to seal. Brush top with non-dairy milk and cut a few small knife holes to allow steam to escape. Tent the prepared torta with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack, for about 20 minutes. Remove the springform sides and serve as you wish.