Torta di Pasta Frollo

Theo Randall's Torta di Pasta Frollo recipe is a delicious short-crust pastry tart topped with ricotta cheese, spinach, sautéed onions and prosciutto, and makes a great lunch or dinner party starter.

From the book

My Simple Italian by
My Simple Italian
100 foolproof recipes for classic Italian dishes
Simple, fresh ideas for midweek dinners
Comforting recipes for traditional home cooking

Introduction

I love making this as a 'standing-up starter' when people come over - it is so easy and you can make it in advance and reheat it. The pasta frollo is an incredibly light pastry that tastes great with the topping of spinach, Parmesan, ricotta and slow-cooked onions. You could also have this as a lunch dish with a crisp green salad.

Serves 6
Prep time: 1 h

Ingredients

For the pastry:
250g unsalted butter, chilled
250g plain flour
5 tbsp ice-cold water
For the topping:
50ml extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
A small bunch thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1kg fresh spinach
200g ricotta cheese
A small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
200ml crème fraîche
2 organic egg yolks
50g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
100g Parmesan cheese shavings
4 slices prosciutto di Parma, torn into pieces (optional)

Instructions

1. To make the pastry, put the butter and flour in a food processor and pulse to a breadcrumb consistency. Add the iced water and pulse until a dough is formed. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry on a baking sheet to a rectangular shape about 5mm thick. Prick all over with a fork, then bake for 10 minutes until crisp. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on. 

3. Start making the topping while the pastry base is baking. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan, add the onions with the garlic and thyme, and cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes until softened.

4. Meanwhile, blanch the spinach in a pan of boiling water until wilted. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze or press the spinach to remove excess water. Chop the spinach.

5. Spread the cooked onions evenly over the pastry. Top with the spinach, the broken-up ricotta and chopped parsley. In a bowl, mix the crème fraîche with the egg yolks and grated Parmesan and drizzle this mixture over the spinach and ricotta. Bake for about 15 minutes until the topping is a light golden colour.

6. Scatter the Parmesan shavings over the pasta frollo and arrange the torn slices of prosciutto on top, if you like. Serve warm. 

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