26 February 2012


About two weeks ago when it was still freezing outside, I bought a basil plant. If you think about it, it's a bit perverted to buy a fragile Mediterranean summer plant when it's -15° C outside and the world looks like Marshmallow Country. But it was just standing there in the supermarket, all green and spring-y and lovely, and I really couldn't resist. And then all the way back from the supermarket, there was this lovely basil smell wafting from my grocery bag, and suddenly everything seemed a bit cheerier. Mmmmmmh ...  A bit of summer in the middle of Winter Wonderland.
I am absolutely infatuated with basil. If I could only use one herb for the rest of my life, I'd choose basil. Sadly, my plants never have a really a long lifespan because I just keep eating the leaves all day long, and after a week or two (at the most!), there's nothing left but a few sad withered stems...
But I'll try very hard this time. Promise.
So with this basil plant, the first signs of spring and summer had sneaked into the flat. And what better to greet them with than Italian food?

I finally decided on tortano which I found a recipe for in One more slice. On what? Tortano. No, I hadn't heard of it before either. It is similar to calzone only with a delicious bread dough instead of the pizza dough. It is supposed to be round with a hole in the middle, kinda like an uber-large stuffed ciabatta bagel but when I took mine out of the oven, a lot of the filling had oozed out, the hole was filled with molten mozzarella and it didn't look very pretty... So you only get a picture of the last quarter that was left over the next day. And I must say, that last quarter was the very best. Tortano taste nice when it's still warm but loads better when it's cold. So be patient and let it cool completely before digging in. I know it's hard but you'll be rewarded.

I used a mozzarella tomato turkey basil stuffing but you can basically stuff tortano with whatever you like. Maybe sweet stuffings wouldn't be the very best idea, but as for the savoury stuff: anything goes. Next time maybe some walnuts, honey and goat's cheese? Or quattro formaggi? Or veggies? Or spinach and feta? Mmmh, looking forward to it. A lot.

(Basic recipe by Leila Lindholm)

15 g yeast
300 ml/1.2 cups lukewarm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1.5 Tbsp salt
375 g/3.5 cups flour

1 mozzarella cheese
250 g/1.5 cups thinly sliced turkey ham
2 tomatoes
2 Tbsp crema di balsamico
A handful of basil leaves 

In a large bowl, mix water olive oil, honey, and salt. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Little by little, mix in the flour, and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm, non-draughty place for 40-60 minutes. The slightly preheated oven or the pantry would be good choices here. 

Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes and the mozzarella, chop the turkey and the basil leaves. Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, turkey, and basil in a bowl, add the crema di balsamio and season to taste.

On a well-floured surface, press the dough into a rectangular plate (about 1 cm /0.5 in thick). Don't use a rolling pin as it would press all the air out of the dough. Spread the filling on top.
Preheat your oven to 250° C/ 480° F.

Brush the edges of the dough with water to make it stick, then roll the whole thing up, and shape into a wreath. Transfer the wreath to a baking tray lined with baking paper, and dust with flour. Cover with the towel again and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Put the baking tray into the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 200° C/390° F. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Let cool completely before eating.

Perfect for a picnic or a tailgate party, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. Basilikum aus dem Supermarkt würde auch ohne deine Kahlfutterattacken nicht lange leben, dazu sind die Pflänzchen zu schwach. Ich hol mein Basilikum in Frühjahr von der Gärtnerin am Bauernmarkt. Und es schmeckt wirklich spitze, da geb ich dir recht!