Torta Salata con Cavolo Nero e Zucca

I gave this tart an Italian name because I think my inspiration in creating it arose from experiences I had while living in Northern Italy, although I am certain I never ate a pie like this while living or visiting Italy. Nevertheless, I ate lots of Tuscan kale – and Italy is where I finally came to appreciate pumpkin. Besides, the rustic look of this pie reminds me of stopping in a small Tuscan hillside town and being served 5-star food in a 2-star looking Trattoria.

This pie is more than the savory filling. The vegan crust is crumbly and light, with hints of butter flavor coming from my choice fat to shorten the gluten strands – unprocessed rapeseed oil.

I chose to work without a pie tin, although you certainly could make this tart in your favorite container. I guess the only reason I made this decision was purely a chef thing – I enjoy working with my hands and forming something into a shape like a potter making a sculpted cup.

The filling is flexible. Your choices are virtually endless in deciding how you want to make this kind of tart. What’s important is getting the seasoning correct and making sure your filling isn’t too dry. I chose to work with vegan ricotta – easily available these days although I made my own, but that’s another story.

My filling can be made in stages. I roast the pumpkin separately. I decided on the small orange Hokkaido variety because the skin is also edible and highly flavorful. It also holds together well – an important factor because of the long baking time. I like working with Tuscan kale because it is simple to slice and hardy when cooked a long period of time. The color remains quite dark instead of turning an ugly shade of greenish-gray like many other types of green vegetables. I opted to include some chopped roasted walnuts to add a bit of texture to the filling. Getting these main preparations finished – up to 2 days in advance – will help you when putting the tart together.

Yield: makes one tart about 25-cm (10-inches)

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