Torta Salata Di Barbabietola

This pastry is essentially a shortcrust, but by throwing a little ricotta into the mix, it goes a bit flaky. It works in the same way that sour cream and yogurt do, so if you want to swap it for either, go for it. You should also change the toppings with what’s available – it's lovely with roasted pumpkin, thinly sliced courgette, wilted greens, peas, asparagus, tomato... The possibilities are endless.
Serves
Serves 4-6
Ingredients
For The Pastry
200g of plain flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp of fine salt
150g of unsalted butter, refrigerator cold & cut into small cubes
80g of whole milk ricotta
For The Topping
Approx. 400g of beetroot
Olive Oil
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of honey
200-250g of whole milk ricotta
50g of parmesan, finely grated, or dolcelatte, crumbled
1 whole egg & 1 yolk
Handful of sage leaves
1 sprig of rosemary, stripped
Fine salt
Sea salt flakes
Method
Step 1
For the pastry, combine the flour with the salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub them together until no large chunks remain – some smaller, pea-sized bits are fine. Add the ricotta and mix in with a fork, then use your hands to bring everything together into one ball, kneading briefly in the bowl. Don’t handle the dough too much. It’s not a completely smooth dough and some bits of butter and ricotta will remain visible. Form into a flat round disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of half an hour or up to a few days.
Step 2
Preheat your oven to 200°C Fan and line a baking tray with foil. Trim the beetroot of their stalks, scrub the bulbs of any dirt and leave to dry. Put the bulbs on the foil then rub them well with oil and drizzle with the vinegar and half of the honey. Sprinkle with salt, then wrap the foil around the beetroot to form a little parcel. Put in the oven for 60-90 minutes, until you can poke through them easily with a knife (the time will depend on the size of the bulbs). Leave until cool enough to handle, then slice them thinly – about 2mm each. Toss them in their cooking juices then set aside.
Step 3
Put a flat baking sheet inside the oven to heat up. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and leave for 5 minutes to soften slightly. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll the pastry out into a rough circle the thickness of a pound coin and to around 28cm in diameter. If any areas crack, just press them back together with your fingers. Cut a piece of baking paper to the right size then transfer the pastry onto it.
Step 4
Whisk the ricotta, parmesan and whole egg together in a mixing bowl. Season with fine salt to taste. Spoon into the middle of the pastry and use the back of a spoon to spread it towards the edge, leaving about a 2cm/¾in border. Arrange the slices of beetroot on top of the ricotta then fold the pastry edges over themselves to form a crust, pressing lightly to fix it in place. Whisk the egg yolk and brush it all over the crust, then sprinkle the crust with flaky sea salt. Drizzle the beetroot with olive oil and the remaining honey and sprinkle with more flaky salt. Carefully slide the pastry onto the hot baking sheet in the oven, using the paper to help. Bake for around 35-40 minutes, until crisp and golden.
Step 5
When the tart is nearly done, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan until shimmering. Add the sage and rosemary and fry for 3-4 minutes until crisp, then transfer to a few pieces of kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and season with salt. Drizzle a little of the oil from the pan over the beetroot, scatter with the herbs and serve.

Stagioni: Contemporary Italian Cooking to Celebrate the Seasons by Olivia Cavalli (Pavilion, HarperCollins Publishers). Photography by Sophie Davidson.

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