ITALIAN KALE PIE (TORTA DI CAVOLO NERO)

In Italy, where they make savory pies from almost every vegetable imaginable, kale is a popular choice, especially in Tuscany where it’s known as cavolo nero or black cabbage. Teamed up with pancetta, onion, garlic, ricotta, eggs, and grated pecorino, its slightly bitter flavor is complemented rather than hidden. This is a great solo dish or delicious accompaniment to plain grilled meat or fish.

Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings


One 9-inch cake pan, 2 inches deep, lined with Olive Oil Dough (below), using two thirds of the dough for the bottom crust and the remaining dough for the top

Fine sea salt

1 1/2 pounds kale, leaves separated from lower and interior stems, washed, and drained (if you find kale that has long, thick stems, start with 2 pounds)

2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 cup, about 4 ounces, finely chopped white or yellow onion

1 clove garlic, grated on a Microplane

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds whole milk ricotta

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely grated pecorino Romano

  1. Bring a large pan of water to a boil and salt it. Add the kale and return to a boil. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, pressing the kale against the colander, cool, and coarsely chop.
  2. Combine the pancetta and oil in a large pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pancetta has colored but is still soft, about 2 or 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 10 minutes, stir in the garlic, cook for a few seconds, and then stir in the kale. Heat through and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Let cool.
  4. Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 400°F.
  5. To finish the filling, whisk the ricotta and eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the parsley and grated cheese. Fold in the kale mixture and the pancetta.
  6. Scrape the filling into the prepared crust and spread evenly. Roll the remaining dough for the top crust and use a pattern to cut it to a 9-inch disk Fold the dough at the side of the pan down over the filling and place the disk of dough on the filling and folded dough. Cut several vent holes in the top of the pie and brush with oil.
  7. Set the pie in the oven and lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake until the crust is deep golden and the filling is set, 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Cool the pie on a rack and serve at room temperature.

 

Olive Oil Dough

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large eggs

  1. Use a fork to stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil and eggs. Use the fork to beat the eggs and oil together, then gradually draw in the dry ingredients a little at a time until the dough starts to hold together.
  3. Scrape the contents of the bowl to a lightly floured work surface (it’s okay if there are still some dry bits) and fold the dough over on itself 4 or 5 times, gently kneading it smooth. Kneading too much might make the oil separate from the dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and keep it at a cool room temperature if you’re using within a few hours; refrigerate for longer storage.