Cookbook Profile

Tortino with Dandelion Greens or Chicory
tortino con la cicoria

for 4 people as an appetizer or 2, people for lunch

An interesting variation on the theme of the frittata is this tortino, made with wild dandelion greens. The main difference between a frittata and a tortino is that the first contains only eggs and the ingredients that are being bound together with the eggs, usually vegetables, while the tortino includes cream in some regions and, in this case, flour. This addition causes the tortino to have a somewhat browned, cakelike appearance, echoing the fact that torta means 'cake." Flour also helps to bind the eggs with the greens, which have a high water content. While the tortini I have come across in other parts of Italy are called such also because they are baked, this one is made on the stove top, just like a frittata. If you do not have access to wild dandelion greens, chicory or curly endive may be substituted with excellent results.

1 pound young wild dandelion greens,
     escarole, or curly endive
4 eggs
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced lengthwise
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Core and wash the greens thoroughly, picking out any yellow or brown leaves and cutting off any roots. Chop coarsely. Allow the water that clings to the leaves to remain; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, and salt and season with pepper.

In a skillet with a tight-fitting lid, combine the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and warm over medium low heat until the garlic is softened and lightly colored but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the greens and toss to coat in the oil. Raise the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally and always returning the cover to the pan, until the greens are wilted and sweet, about 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Preheat a broiler. Add the cooled greens to the egg mixture and mix well. In a 10- or 12-inch heavy-bottomed, flameproof skillet or omelet pan, warm the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot enough to make the eggs sizzle, pour the mixture into the pan, and use the back of a wooden spoon to even out the mixture in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook very gently on the bottom, moving the pan around on the surface of the burner to ensure even cooking. It is important that the heat not be too high, or the tortino will dry out on the bottom and remain raw in the center. When it is set and cooked on the bottom, after 5 to 7 minutes, remove it from the stove top. Slide the pan onto a rack about 9 inches from the broiler element. Leave the oven door ajar and remain with the tortino, watching over it until it is cooked through and golden on the surface, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending upon the width of the pan. To test for doneness, press a finger in the center of the tortino to see if it is firm. If it is runny, slide it back onto the rack to continue cooking, always watching over it.

Remove the tortino from the broiler and let it cool somewhat, then carefully transfer it to a platter. Allow it to cool to room temperature before serving.


Buy the Book!


Regional Recipes ftom The Heartland of Italy
by Julia della Croce
Photographs by John A. Rizzo
Chronicle Books
$19.95 paperback
ISBN: 0-8118-2351-2
Recipe reprinted by permission.





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This page created September 2003