Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
Makes 6 Rounds, or 12 Small Sandwiches
When I was in Umbria, in central Italy, I learned the ancient way of making simple peasant bread on a stone, or testo. The bread is shaped into a flat round, like a small pizza, and then cooked on a hot stone. You can achieve the same results by cooking the bread on a hot griddle or in an electric frying pan. Here the bread is cut into wedges and filled with a savory spinach mixture to make little sandwiches.
2 10-ounce packages fresh or frozen spinach
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 pound prosciutto, sliced and cut in thin strips
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
6 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
To make the filling, if using fresh spinach, trim and wash it thoroughly, but do not drain. Place the spinach in a large pot, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain well and squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop fine. If using frozen spinach, cook as directed on the package, drain, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop fine.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the prosciutto and sauté it until it just begins to brown. Add the spinach and a good grinding of black pepper and mix well. Set aside.
To make the dough, in a large bowl, mix the flour and baking soda together. In another bowl, beat the egg, olive oil, and cheese together. Add to the flour mixture and stir to blend well. Add the warm water 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing with your hands until a smooth dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll out each piece into a 6-inch circle; set aside on a floured surface.
Heat a cast-iron griddle or an electric frying pan until hot. Prick the dough pieces all over with a fork and then make light overlapping circle imprints all over each piece with a small glass. These marks are decorative, but they also speed the cooking process. Place 1 or 2 of the breads on the griddle or in the hot pan; do not cook more than 2 at a time. Cook until the breads have browned slightly on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes, then turn them over and brown them on the other side. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
Cut each torta into 4 wedges. Divide the filling evenly among 12 of the wedges and top with the remaining wedges to make sandwiches. Serve immediately.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1991.