Savory kale pie

This is one of Betti’s favorite recipes, and she makes it once a week.  Betti’s version is based on Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s recipe in The Splendid Table, a collection of fabulous recipes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

The erbazzone is basically a shepard’s pie made with a simple crust and filled with bitter greens, parmigiano and pancetta, seasoned with a touch of spicy red pepper.  If you want to make a vegetarian version of the recipe, you can omit the pancetta, substituting chunks of a chopped, cooked potato in place of the pancetta in the filling (Michele calls this a “sad erbazzone”).   It’s a terrific appetizer for a crowd of hungry people, but it’s also a good meal on its own.  It even tastes good with a mug of coffee in the morning.



  • 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons of cold vegetable shortening – I think the best is the hard shortening that you can buy from Whole Foods. If you don’t have that on hand, refrigerate 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 to ½ cup of ice water


  • 2-3 bunches of fresh kale, or 1 and ½ bags of frozen, chopped kale or other bitter greens (for example, collard greens are also good)
  • 8 ounces of chopped pancetta (you can buy the packets at Whole Foods)
    • Reserve about 2 ounces of the chopped pancetta, mincing it and placing in a saucer until later.
  • ½ sweet onion (Maui onion is best), chopped finely
  • 1 Thai pepper, finely chopped (or, if you can’t get a good pepper, use a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

How to make this recipe

  1. You need to prepare the dough in advance. This recipe is called “crazy dough,” an old recipe that requires just a small amount of oil, plus flour, water and salt.  The process involves refrigerating the dough for an hour, then rolling it out and re-refrigerating it for at least another hour.
  2. Put the flour into a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and then blend the ingredients for a second or two.
  3. Add the olive oil and then add ¼ cup of water. Turn on the processor to blend.
  4. Now, slowly drizzle in more of the water as the processer combines the ingredients. The flour needs to form a sort of clump that sticks together loosely. You don’t want the flour to be too “wet” – instead, it should be a sort of sticky ball.  Blend only for a few seconds (maybe 20-30 seconds)
  5. Take the flour out of the food processor and form into a ball. Put it on a large cutting board which has been lightly dusted with flour. Knead the flour for just a minute, re-form it into a ball, and wrap it in plastic.  Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
  6. Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator. Cut it into half. Refrigerate one-half while you roll out the other dough into either a rectangle or a round.  I usually roll it into a rectangular shape so that it is just about an inch longer and wider than my 9 x 12 baking dish.  The dough should be firm and slightly elastic.
  7. Put a small amount of olive oil in the baking dish or pie pan, then place the rolled-out dough in the pan. The edges should come up slightly.  Cover with a dish cloth and put the dish into the refrigerator.
  8. Remove the other half of the dough ball, and roll it out to the same size and shape as the first half. Once you’ve rolled it out, put it onto a lightly-oiled sheet of aluminum foil.  Cover with another sheet of foil and place in the refrigerator.
  9. The dough needs to stay in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes. In the meantime, you can prepare the filling and pre-heat the oven to 400o

Making the Filling

  1. In a large skillet, combine ¼ cup of olive oil with 2 cloves of sliced garlic. On low heat, simmer the garlic cloves until they take on a golden color.  Remove and discard the garlic.  Add the diced onion to the pan, continuing to cook on low heat until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add ¾ of the pancetta and all of the optional red pepper, cooking them with the onion for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chopped greens, turn the heat to high, and stir until the kale is cooked.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Using your hands, squeeze out some (but not all) of the excess moisture from the kale, putting it back into the pan.
  5. Once you have squeezed out some of the extra liquid, stir in the 2 beaten eggs. Add 1 cup of grated parmigiano and mix well.
  6. Remove the pan with the crust from the refrigerator and pour the kale mixture into the pan and spread it evenly.
  7. Remove the second part of the crust from the aluminum foil and cover the “pie.” Fold up the edges from the bottom crust over the top and then tamp down with a fork or spoon.  Prick holes in the crust with a fork.
  8. Put the pan into the center rack of the pre-heated oven. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 ounces of finely-chopped pancetta pieces over the top of the crust.
  9. Put back into the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.
  10. Buon appetito!

Italiano: Torta di Verdure al Forno

Erbazzone, cioè, Torta di Verdure al Forno (Torta di Betti).  Ottima ricetta milleusi, fa da se un pasto, o in fette fa da antipasto quando avete tanti amici a cena.  Preparazione semplice, si mantiene per una settimana, ed è buonissimo.

  • Crosta
    • 530 gm di farina, cinque cucchiai di olio ‘d’oliva (buono) -cioè una tazzina di caffè, e 120 ml acqua fredda.
  • Ripieno:
    • Ripieno: 2-3 mazzi di bieta e/o altre verdure amara (cime di rapa). Lavarla, asciugarla bene.  Tagliarla a pezzetti.
    • 120 grammi di pancetta (100 per il ripieno e 20 per la crosta) tagliata a pezzetti piccoli
    • 1 cipolla dolce (tropea meglio)
    • 2 uova battute intere
    • Un peperoncino rosso piccante
    • 340 gm di Parmigiano grattugiato fresco
    • Sale e pepe


Forno a 200 Celsius.

  1. Mettere la farina nel robot da cucina (food processor), un pizzico di sale, mischiare 2 secondi.
  2. Aggiungere l’olio d’oliva e 120 ml d’acqua. Mischiare 20 secondi con robot da cucina. Se necessario aggiungere un po’ d’acqua mischiare per qualche altro secondo finché diventa una palla appiccicosa.  Rimuovere “la palla” e impastarla con le mani per qualche secondo su un tagliere spolverato con farina così non si appiccica.  Avvolgere la palla in plastica (Saran Wrap o simile) e metterla per 2 ore in frigo.
  3. Tagliate la palla a metà, impastate una metà in una forma rettangolare (l’altra mettetela in frigo). Spalmate una teglia da forno circa 25 x 30 cm e metteteci dentro la pasta rettangolare.  I margini dovrebbero uscire un po’ fuori (sopra) la pentola.  Coprite e mettete in frigo.
  4. Preparate l’altra metà-quella che avevate lasciato in frigo nella stessa maniera (cioè fatene un rettangolo piatto). Mettetela fra due fogli di carta da forno con un po’ d’olio e mettetela in frigo per almeno 20 minuti.  Accendete il forno a 200C (400F).
  5. In una padella, soffriggete aglio e olio, togliete aglio, aggiungete la cipolla dolce a pezzetti, 100 g. di pancetta e peperoncino (se vi piace), cuocere finché la cipolla è translucida, aggiungere la bieta e cuocere fuoco forte circa 5-7 minuti (finché cotta). Lasciare raffreddare.
  6. Scolare se per caso c’è acqua in pentola (succede se usate vegetali surgelati). Poi mischiate 2 uova battute e 340 g. di Parmigiano grattato.
  7. Prendere la pentola con la pasta dal frigo e versarci dentro le verdure, poi prendere l’altra metà della crosta dal frigo e coprire la torta. Combaciare i margini in maniera che diventi una torta.  Poi con una forchetta fare un po’ di buchi attraverso la torta.
  8. Infornare 20 minuti.
  9. Togliere dal forno e metterci sopra i rimanenti 20 grammi di pancetta cruda a pezzetti.
  10. Rimettere in forno e cuocere 20 minuti.
  11. Buon appetito!