While Italians are not exactly known for their vegetarian dishes, they do eat a lot of vegetables compared to many other cultures. Because of this, you can come across dishes that are vegetarian by accident.
I tend to prefer these “accidentally” vegetarian or vegan recipes to ones that I will often see on veggie/vegan blogs, simply because they are not designed to imitate non-vegetarian dishes. I don’t want to eat a vegan steak, because it is never going to taste anywhere near as good as a real steak, and distantly reminding me of real steak on my plate just makes me frustrated and craving for the real thing. Dishes that happen to be vegetarian or vegan, on the other hand (like those vegan cookies I’ve told you about), were designed to be perfectly delicious all on their own, rather than pale imitations of something else, so I find them much more appealing for it.
Today, I’ll be giving you two tortino recipes, which is literally translated to “small cake”. However this is something of a bad translation, as cake implies flour. When we say tortino, we really mean something in the shape of a cake, but they often more closely resemble souffle, or flan.
Tortino recipes can be either salty or sweet, but today I’m going to talk about two recipes that are salty, and made with vegetables. These make filling and low- calorie snacks, but also good and different appetizers for vegetarian guests (neither of these are vegan though, vegan tortini are coming in another post).
Here, I’ll give you the recipe for a zucchini tortino, and for a cauliflower one.
Let’s start with zucchini then. For your tortino di zucchine, you will need:
1 kg of zucchini, sliced
200gr of ricotta, or another spongy cheese you like better
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pinch of nutmeg
Place the zucchini and onion in a large pan, cover them with salted water, and let them simmer for 5 minutes. Then drain off the water, add the olive oil to the vegetables, cover and let them stew until cooked through.
Whisk the ricotta, eggs and parmesan together, with a little salt and pepper, and the nutmeg. Put the vegetables through a blender, then add them to the cheese mixture, and adjust the salt to taste.
Rub a little oil on a loaf tin, dust it with flour, and pour in the zucchini mixture. Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes, or until the mixture is firm and springy to the touch. Once cooled, flip it over onto a plate, and slice it to serve.
Mine looks a little worse for wear, because I didn’t drain the ricotta before mixing it up so it came out a little watery. However, if you drain it properly and use fresh small zucchini, you won’t have this problem!
Now, for the cauliflower one.
For a cauliflower tortino, you will need
one medium cauliflower
500ml of milk (part skim is also fine)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
Steam the cauliflower. While it cools, make besciamella sauce: melt the butter in a small pot, whisk the flour with it to make a paste, then slowly add the milk whisking continuously, until it thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.
Chop the cauliflower roughly and mix it in with the eggs, besciamella, and parmesan. Pour the mixture into a greased and flowered baking tin.
Put the baking tin into a larger baking pan half filled with water, then place the entire thing into the oven at 180°C and bake for 40 minutes, or until firm. Let the tortino cool in the pan with water, then serve
And there you have it. Either as an appetizer or as a snack, these two tortino recipes are tasty, healthy and filling. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!