Friday, September 10, 2010

Torta al Testo and Love of Italy - Let's Lunch

I was in Italy. That's the statement I whisper to myself when the morning comes too soon, or the day lasts too long, or a job gets in the way of life.
I was in Italy. I close my eyes and bring back the smells of little bread shops, the clicking of shoes across cobblestones, the way sunlight crossed the sky giving each ancient ruin in the Piazza a chance to shine at some point during the day.
I was in Italy. And while there, I ate well!

Torta al Testo is a traditional Umbrian sandwich stuffed with wild arugula, hand cut prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and it's perfect for a picnic any season.
Torta al Testo
I'm eager to share my pictures and experiences with you, so I'll do a 2-part post of my most recent trip to Perugia.

I'm highlighting the Torta al Testo as part of this month's "Let's Lunch Bunch". It's a group of really talented food bloggers from all across the planet who choose a different kind of lunch item each month and agree to blog about it on the same day. It gives you a chance to quickly visit a lot of fantastic recipes and lunch ideas without having to search very far.
Let's Lunch Bunch for September is about Fall Picnics and includes:
CowGirl Chef - Fig Walnut Pesto
Free Range Cookie - Caramel Apple Scone
Kitchen Trials - Rustic Tomato Soup/homemade bread
Blog Well Done - Pumpkin Sub
Tiger In The Kitchen - Braised Pork Belly Sandwich
BonVivant - Tomato and Cheese

Sometimes I get on jags when I find something unique and fun to cook; I'll make it over and over. I've been making this home-made bread for Torta al Testo for everyone in the family, including a gluten free version for a friend. It's so easy to throw it together while moving around the kitchen, then hold the dough in the refrigerator til you want to roll it out, cook it off and fill it with meat, greens and fresh cheese. Sliced into crispy thin wedges, held together by the melted cheese and salty with the hot fat from Italian Prosciutto, the Torta al Testo can be a light lunch, snack or dinner

It has become my teenage son's favorite sandwich, which means he'll even let me make it for school lunches (success!)

The name actually means "Cake of the Tile" because it used to be grilled on a giant slab of stone heated by hot coals. Luckily for us, it can be made simply in a large bottomed pan (cast iron is best) on the top of our stove.

I'm showing the traditional Perugian technique, although you can also put the ingredients into a food processor and zap it all together.

(for 2 Torte)

1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 cup very warm water
2 Tbls. Olive oil
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. salt

In a small bowl add the warm water to the yeast, stir to dissolve and then add the olive oil. Leave to become creamy for about 15 minutes.

On a board, make a mound of the flour with salt sprinkled over it. Make a well in the center and gently pour the yeasty mixture into the well. Using a fork, gradually work in the flour, starting from the center. When a dough forms, use your hands to knead. Continue kneading for about 5 minutes into a smooth and strong dough.

Cover with a towel and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours til almost doubled. Punch down and divide into two balls.

Roll each ball out to about 8-9 inches in diameter. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Cook in a skillet on Med. heat, for about 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove to a towel and let rest a few minutes before carefully slicing in half with a long serrated knife.

After the torta is split, layer with your choice of meats or veggies and reheat under a broiler or grill til crisp. Using a pizza cutter, divide into quarters and serve.

If you read my blog, you already know how much I love Italy. This was my first time in Perugia. In my second post I'll show a little about a cooking course I took there, and about my favorite area, Le Marche. I hope you'll try the Torta al Testo - maybe over and over like me?


Cowgirl Chef said...

I've been wanting to make this kind of bread all summer - it's such a welcome change to the heavy, bready baguettes. Thank you for going to Italy for all of us, and sharing this recipe...;)

Danielle said...

I remember having sandwiches like these when we were in Rome last summer - so simple, and so. good. Can't wait to hear all about your trip!

ATigerInTheKitchen said...

What a beautiful looking sandwich...and I love the step by step photos of the bread making. I can't wait to try it. Now you have my head in Italy, too -- sigh, a girl can dream.

Helene said...

Perfect! I am loving all the posts about your trip!

Nancy said...

Wow, I could just taste that sandwich - but of course it would be better to actually GO THERE and have one. However, since that's not happening anytime soon, I'll console myself by making my own version - now that I have a recipe!! Great post - can't wait to hear more about your trip!

Linda said...

I can't wait to bring some bread dough home tomorrow to cook in a skillet. Thanks for the inspiration!

showfoodchef said...

CowgirlChef: Hey! Glad to read ya. Yeah, I hope you try it - I'm still making it every week, got hooked bad :D

Danielle: Ahh, Rome - that's my absolute favorite. Thx for commenting, too.

A TIGer In the Kitchen: Dream? You are always in exciting places, I have so much vicarious fun just reading your tweets. Thx for continuing our Lets Lunch - it's so fun.

Helene: Thanx for stopping by here and leaving a comment, for goodness sake you KNOW I love that. I miss seeing you, but loving hearing about all your great work this year - just awesome! And of course your trip to Provence is written about So well, too. Baci!

Nancy: You are SO sweet, can't wait to see you soon at CampBLogaway.

Linda: thanx for stopping by, love your FreeRangeCookies Blog and those scones on a stick were brilliant!

abbey said...

All these recipes sound so delicious! Thanks for coming by to visit me, I'll have to thank Drew for sending you my way! If you're interested, my actual blog website is
The one 'Cornelius Today' advertises, the one you visited, is an edited down version of what I do. Thanks again!