Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sausage, Roasted Red Pepper, and Spinach Torta Rustica

I’m wondering just how many people pass right by the Asian section in their produce department because, other than Asian cooking, they have no idea what to do with the likes of bok choy, Napa cabbage, or Shanghai greens.  I’m wondering this because I used to be one of those people.  Now, I do my fair share of Asian cooking, but when I wasn’t, I never bothered to toss any Asian produce into my cart.  Big mistake.  Not only are Asian greens nutritious, but they have a lot of flavor.  In fact, many of the greens can be substituted for spinach in recipes that you’ve probably been making for years; in doing so, you will not only gain nutrition, but also a lot of taste.  Whereas spinach can be a bit mundane (Do not come after me spinach lovers, I love it as much as you do!), Asian greens have a unique flavor and a bit of a peppery kick.  I also find they cook up faster and require far less draining than spinach.

Asian vegetable assortment.  Do not be afraid!
This recipe, from a 2008 issue of Bon Appétit, caught my eye the other day as, amazingly, it pretty much listed all of the oddball leftovers that I had in my fridge.  Recipes like this one, i.e. tortas and stratas, are very forgiving.  Keep the egg and cream mixture pretty much as written and toss in what you like. I did not have spinach, so I substituted, with great success,  Petite Shanghai greens.  I didn’t have a baguette, so I used some ciabatta rolls.  I didn’t have quite enough sausage, so I doubled up on the peppers.  It was as delicious as I had hoped, and will surely be made again and again, although probably not exactly the same way.  Give this recipe (and Asian greens) a try.

Hot from the oven.  Is this beautiful, or what?

Sausage, Roasted Red Pepper, and Spinach Torta Rustica

16 1/4-inch-thick baguette slices, cut on slight diagonal
1 tablespoon butter
1 8 oz. package Melissa's Petite Shanghai greens
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese, divided
3/4 cup diced drained Melissa's Fire Roasted Sweet red bell peppers (from 15.5-ounce jar)
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter 8x8x2-inch baking dish.

Place 8 baguette slices in bottom of dish; press 2 baguette slices onto each side.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
Add petite Shanghai greens; toss until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to strainer; cool. Squeeze or pat dry, as necessary. Transfer to medium bowl.

Heat same pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Sauté until cooked through, breaking up, about 7 minutes.  Drain on plate lined with two paper towels.

Mix into wilted greens; mix in 1 cup cheese and peppers. Spread atop baguette slices in bottom of dish. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend.
Whisk in last 4 ingredients. Pour over spinach mixture and stir lightly with fork to distribute evenly.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over. Bake torta until puffed and golden and center is set, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

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Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Your torts rustic sounds good. I often cook like you do subbing what I have available at the time I'm cooking. I don't have the availability of Shanghai greens but always have spinach.

Designs By Pinky said...

Sounds delicious!!!! I have never used any Asain greens so may give them a try! XO, Pinky

Mich - Piece of Cake said...

Wow, this looks amazing! I would have never thought of putting a bak choy in this dish as we usually stir fry those Asian greens on a day to day basis. But it is a brilliant idea which I love very much and will try that out.

Barbara F. said...

This sounds so delicious, and you are so right, I am a little afraid to try "new" greens and stick with those I know. But this dish has inspired me. Visiting from Foodie Friday. xo

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

You have a much better selection of Asian greens than I find here. This sounds like a delicious torta!

Pam said...

Once again I'm delighted with your post.