Artichoke Torta holds a lot of meaning for me. That, and its cousin zucchini and rice torta along with pasta con pesto, were among the first authentic Italian foods I ever tasted. The mother of one of my best high school friends made them. Lisa had a Nonna and Nonno. I had an Oma and Opa, which is to say she grew up eating Italian food and I was more accustomed to German fare.
My early exposure to spaghetti came from a guy named Chef Boyardee. I thought he made a pretty good sauce until I was invited to dinner at Lisa’s house. I was floored to learn that her mother made the sauce from … tomatoes! I had no idea, and no clue how good red sauce could taste. Lisa introduced me to lots of Italian dishes, including savory torta, which has become one of my go-to appetizers.
This week, the Sunday Supper tastemakers have been busy in their cucinas getting ready for tonight’s Italian Fest. We will gather at 7 p.m. ET for our weekly Twitter party, celebrating the very best of Italian cuisine. No doubt you’ll be ready to mangiare afterward.
Artichoke Torta is not an inexpensive venture, but since it serves a crowd as an appetizer, I think it’s worth it. You’ll need three boxes of frozen artichoke hearts which will set you back about $10. That’s an ingredient I rarely see on sale. The other thing you might balk at is the 1/2 cup of olive oil in the batter. I have seen this recipe call for 1 cup and I have made it with that. I find the end result too loose with a full cup even when I drained and squeezed as much liquid as I could from the artichokes,
The torta is best served warm or at room temperature, but it should sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting. This will set it. When you remove the torta from the oven, some of the olive oil will bubble and pool. As the torta cools, the liquid soaks into the mixture which firms as it cools.
I have also made the zucchini and rice version, which is firmer yet. A hunk of either for your work lunch is a good thing. That is if you have any left over after your party.
Easy, delicious and oh so flavorful - this artichoke torta will be a family favorite.
- 3 9- ounce packages frozen artichokes
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 large onion small dice
- 1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley minced
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil depending on how dry you can get the artichokes
Simmer frozen artichokes according to package directions, 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. Drain, pressing out as much liquid as you can. Cool, then chop finely. Mix with garlic, onion and parsley, and set aside.
Beat eggs in large bowl until frothy with Italian seasoning, pepper and salt. Stir in bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Mix in artichoke mixture until evenly distributed.
Pour batter into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish that has been lightly greased with olive oil or nonstick vegetable spray. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.
Let cool and cut into 1-1/2-inch squares. The torta is best served warm at room temperature.