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This torte is one I make often using my favourite seasonal vegetables. It is wonderfully adaptable; to be enjoyed in either winter or summer, using whatever vegetables are in season. I usually make my own Ricotta, which I prefer; recipe included.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

140g broccoli spears

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion chopped,

2 courgettes (zucchini) finely sliced

2 garlic cloves finely chopped and bruised to release flavour

120 g baby spinach

1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme or basil

80 g parmesan, grated

250 g ricotta

225 g mascarpone

25 g feta, finely crumbled

4-5 eggs

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the broccoli, cook until stems are soft. Drain and plunge into cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process and to retain the colour of the broccoli. Chop into small chunks.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Turn up the heat and add the courgettes, cook until softened and golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, then add the spinach, mix in and cook until the spinach has wilted.

Remove pan from heat, add the broccoli, the herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set mixture aside to cool.

Lightly butter a 20 cm spring form tin and dust with some of the grated parmesan, about 1 tablespoon of cheese should do.

Mix together the ricotta, mascarpone, feta, eggs and about 50g of the parmesan. Add the mixture to the cooled vegetables, folding through to incorporate. Adjust seasoning.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and scatter over the remaining parmesan. Place the tin on a baking sheet which will catch any drips and place in the oven. Bake for about 40-50 minutes. When cooked the top should be golden brown and the mixture still slightly wobbly in the centre.

Remove and leave to rest and set for about 20 minutes before serving. At this point the torte may be cooled completely, then refrigerated and served chilled as a summer torte. Serve with a salad.

Home-made Ricotta

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Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk

½ tsp. sea salt

3 tablespoons of either distilled vinegar, fresh lemon or lime juice.

Method

Place the milk in a heavy bottom pot. Add salt and heat gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching until the milk reaches a temperature of about 80-90C, or if you don’t have a thermometer, heat until the milk starts to simmer and foam at sides. Do not boil.

Remove from heat and add vinegar or the lemon/lime juice. Give the mixture one or two stirs, and then leave alone for the curds to develop. This should take about 5 minutes.

Line a sieve with cheese cloth and place over a bowl. Gently pour the milk mixture into the cheesecloth, disturbing the curds as little as possible in the process. Leave to drain for 5 minutes then bring the ends of the cloth together and tie the bag to the tap over the sink and leave to continue draining for about 15 minutes. The ricotta is now ready to use. The longer it drains the drier the ricotta will be.

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