The panoramic landscape of Western Tuscany is awe-inspiring. But this beautiful land is also responsible for a plethora of wonderful vegetables, which inform so much of the gastronomy. While Tuscany is known for simple rustic dishes though, there’s a recipe that is quite popular in the area around Lucca, and it’s served and made a bit differently than most produce in the area.
Torta coi becchi, simply put, is a tart of vegetables. The end result is a delicious blend of both sweet and savory, all served in a pastry shell. While various interpretations of the recipe exist, including a sweet one featuring chocolate and rice, this one is particularly tasty! “Becchi,” by the way, means “beaks,” and refers to the crimped shape of the crust.
Torta Coi Becchi
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Cook method: Bake
- 250 grams flour
- 100 grams sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 100 grams butter
- 250 grams boiled chard or spinach
- 100 grams sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 100 grams stale bread
- 50 grams raisins
- 50 grams pine nuts
- 50 grams candied citron, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 eggs
- 1 lemon
- 1 glass of rum
- Cinnamon, to taste
- Nutmeg, to taste
1. Start by getting some of the stuffing ingredients ready. To do this, pour all the milk into a bowl along with the bread, so the bread begins to soften. In a separate bowl, soak the raisins in water.
2. Now it’s time to make the pastry. Work together the flour, half the sugar, three egg yolks, and the butter. Form it into a disk, and then put the dough into a greased and floured baking dish. Be sure the dough also covers the edges. Prick the bottom of the dough, and put aside in the refrigerator.
3. In a pan, melt a knob of butter, and add boiled and chopped chard. Allow this to cook for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add the chard to the bread and raisins (which have been dried and wrung out). Also add in the eggs and egg yolk, lemon zest, pine nuts, and candied citron (fruit).
5. Sprinkle this mixture with rum and stir.
6. Now add in the sugar, as well as a pinch of cinnamon and one nutmeg. Mix this well, and then pour over the dough.
7. Fold the edge of the dough over, and cut the outside edge into triangles so that they look like “beaks.”
8. Bake the torta at 180°C (350°F) for 40 minutes.
Time to enjoy this fabulous recipe! The result is at once delicate and delicious. With the addition of the sweet ingredients, it won’t even taste like you’re eating vegetables. Learn other variations of this traditional Tuscan dish, as well as other seasonal recipes, with a Tuscany cooking vacation!
By Liz Hall
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