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Flavors and colors combine to make this take-along meal-in-one a true rustic delicacy. This savory torta (or is it a pie?) is best served at room temperature, so it makes for perfect picnic fare. The cornmeal adds satisfying crunch to the dough.
1 cup (8 ounces) water
3 1/2 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces) yellow or white cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (13 ounces) whole or part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound sliced prosciutto or ham
10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 jar (7 to 8 ounces) roasted red peppers
Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Program for dough or manual, and press Start. Check the dough's consistency about 7 minutes after the kneading cycle begins, adding additional water or flour to form a soft, smooth ball of dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle. Remove the dough and cut off about one-third. Let both pieces rest, covered with oiled plastic wrap, while you make the filling.
Preparing the Filling I: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, egg, basil, and oregano. Blend well.
Assembly: On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger portion of dough into a 15-inch circle. Carefully place the dough into a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan or deep (at least 2 1/2 inches) 9-inch round cake pan; press it lightly against the bottom and sides. Trim the overhanging dough to within 1 inch of the pan rim.
Scatter 1 cup of the mozzarella over the bottom of the crust. Next arrange half the prosciutto slices in an even layer. Spread with all of the ricotta cheese mixture, and then sprinkle with all of the spinach. Cover with the remaining prosciutto slices; press down gently to pack the layers. Add the red peppers in a single layer, and top with the remaining mozzarella. Press down again.
Roll the remaining dough into a 9-inch circle. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water, and place the top crust over the filling, pressing to seal the top and bottom crusts. Brush the top crust with beaten egg (for color, if desired), and cut several small vents for steam to escape.
Baking: Bake the torta in a preheated 375°F oven for 1 hour, or until the crust is a deep golden brown and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool it in the pan on a rack for 45 minutes. Remove the pan sides (or carefully turn it out of the cake pan); cool it completely. Serve the torta at room temperature. Yield: 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1 wedge, 184g): 336 cal, 14g fat, 20g protein, 32g complex carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 93mg cholesterol, 796mg sodium, 309mg potassium, 364RE vitamin A, 34mg vitamin C, 3mg iron, 311mg calcium, 301mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 4, Spring 2001 issue.