Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- 400g (a pound) of puff pastry
- Two or three cups of bechamelle sauce
- 300-400g (3/4 pound to a pound) of spinach
- A knob of butter
- Freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano
Take about 400g (a pound) of puff pastry and cut into two half portions.
Roll one half out to fit the bottom of a buttered dish.
Make up two or three cups of bechamelle sauce (besciamella in Italian).
Cook 300-400g (3/4 pound to a pound) of spinach in a little water to which you have added a knob of butter. Drain and retain.
Finely chop some ham (prosciutto cotto, not Parma or San Daniele). Also chop a generous handful of broad leaf parsley.
Now lay down a layer of spinach. Sprinkle on some parsley and prosciutto. Season with salt and pepper, and then pour on a little of the sauce. Now sprinkle on some freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padana cheese. Repeat with more spinach, ham, parsley etc. and keep going until you have three or four layers. Now roll out the remaining pastry then cover and seal the mixture in the dish. Bake at 170 to 200 deg C (340-400 F) until brown and risen.
This was a typical lunchtime snack at the baker near to the office where I worked in Milan. I have never seen it made with the addition of rice. However a bread dough pastry without the top cover was usually used. He also made a version with Wurstel con Crauti, that is Sauerkraut with Frankfurter type sausage.
Milan has a wealth of simple snack foods of which the following are typical:
Foccacia with various toppings of which my favourite is slices of potato sprinkled with rosemary, a little garlic and coarse salt.
Torta of the kind I have described. (You are welcome to the recipe in my e-mail).
Sformato, which is a mould in an oiled dish of vegetables bound with eggs, besciamella and cheese. This is rather like quiche without the pastry base, or a Spanish tortilla. The usual fillings are asparagus, spinach, artichoke or potatoes with onions.
Food, and wine too, was a constant topic of conversation during my months in Italy. I was able to pick up a few tips from my friends at the office.
In bocca al lupo!