in the kitchen with: sara and emma

I came across the work of New Zealand based Sara and Emma quite by chance when reading comments to the blondies by Whimsy and Spice this summer. I envy the fact that they have their own creative space within their company to write about their passion for food. Their recipes are great as is the photography on their site. This week, given that it’s spring in their part of the world, they are sharing with us a (vegetarian) recipe for a layered vegetable ‘torta’, or savory pie. Next week, Sara and Emma’s colleagues, the other half of the “our kitchen” team will be here with a sweet recipe.

*sorry guys! i missed the non-veggie part of this recipe when i coded this last night. just remove the anchovies and ham and you’re home-free*

About Sara and Emma: Sara and Emma are half of the Fisher Paykel ‘our kitchen’ team. They are based in Auckland, New Zealand, and their colleagues (who you will meet next week for a sweet recipe) are in Dunedin. Sara, a trained cook, with a Bachelor degree in Human Nutrition got hooked on food as a child watching TV personalities like Graham Kerr, Jaques Pèpin and Martin Yan. Emma got the food bug from her mom and from the time she spent in Asia as a teenager. This passion has carried on into adulthood. Today she finds her inspiration in her vegetable garden which provides plenty of food to prepare fresh seasonal and unprocessed meals.

CLICK HERE for Sara and Emma’s Vegetable Torte recipe after the jump!

Layered Vegetable Torta


2½ cups flour

2½ tbsp olive oil

½ tsp rock salt

Enough water to just bind (start with ½ cup)

2 tsp olive oil

1 red onion, diced finely

1 clove of garlic, diced finely

1 tin crushed tomatoes

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar

2 anchovies, roughly chopped

1 eggplant

2 courgettes (zucchini)

4 slices of prosciutto

A handful of basil leaves

Parmesan, approximately 1 cup, grated

1 egg for egg wash



In a mixer, using the dough hook or in a food processor, add the flour and rock salt. Begin mixing and add the oil, then slowly add the water until the dough just comes together. Knead the dough with your hands for 10 minutes; it will be quite tough. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Sweat onion and garlic in a pan with a little olive oil. Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.

Slice the eggplant into 1-2cm rounds and slice courgette lengthwise into 0.5cm strips. Grill vegetables on a high heat on a barbecue, griddle or in a frying pan.

Add sugar and vinegar to the tomato sauce and simmer until thick. Lastly add the anchovies.

Take ½ of the dough and roll out to a thickness of approximately 0.2mm. The dough will spring back so just keep working it until you get a large circle (approximately 40cm). Place on greaseproof paper onto a baking tray.

Layer the filling in the centre of the dough, leaving approximately 5cm around the edge for sealing. I layer in the order of eggplant, courgette, prosciutto, tomato sauce, basil leaves, and parmesan. Repeat, and finish with a layer of eggplant.

Roll the remaining dough out to a similar size and lay over the filling. Crimp and fold the edges to seal the torta (you can trim the edges a little if you have too much dough), and prick the top a few times with the point of a sharp knife.

Brush the torta with egg wash and bake in a moderate oven, 170ºC / 340 F for 30-40 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve with a green salad.


About the recipe

It’s springtime in NZ; the days are becoming lighter for longer creating a shift to outdoor eating and an abundance of spring produce. The offer of eggplants, two for $5 at the local vege shop was not to be passed up so I used a faithful torta base and married traditional Italian ingredients. An Italian torta is a kind of tart or pie, not to be confused with the torta from Spain (an omelette) or Mexico (a sandwich). The dough begins resistant and tense but this enables it to be rolled thinly and still be strong enough to hold the filling.

Knowing the northern hemisphere is heading into cooler months, for a wintery spin the torta can be filled with roasted pumpkin, potatoes, yams, whole garlic cloves, rosemary and pancetta.

  1. I’ll try that recipe this weekend – it looks amazing!

  2. Kristin says:

    Mmmm I will definitely try this recipe. How clever of you to bring spring to us that have bare trees and rain now.


  3. k_darling says:

    This sounds delicious and the photos are lovely. However, it’s not a vegetarian recipe as it contains both anchovies and prosciutto.

  4. Jessica says:

    Love the recipe, but it’s not vegetarian! (Anchovies in the ingredients and recipe.)

  5. cassie says:

    ummm…so that’s not actually vegetarian. although it sounds and looks delicious…

  6. Jessica says:

    “This week, given that it’s spring in their part of the world, they are sharing with us a (vegetarian) recipe for a layered vegetable ‘torta’, or savory pie.”

    This sounds great, but with anchovies and prosciutto, it’s definitely not vegetarian!

  7. j says:

    not exactly vegetarian…

  8. Jenna says:

    looks great!

    (it’ll be vegetarian minus the prosciutto…)

  9. Gina says:

    Prosciutto isn’t vegetarian, sadly. I recently have been ramping up my efforts to be veg, but have often said maybe I will do it for good- minus prosciutto.

  10. this recipe is amazing! i live vegetarian food and this one seams to be a real masterpiece!

  11. kristina says:

    I am so sorry that we mislabeled it vegetarian! Consider the prosciutto, anchovies, and cheese optional!

    Sara and Emma also gave some great vegetable combinations at the end of the recipe using winter bounty. I’m very excited to try this recipe this weekend and hope that anyone who does try this recipe or a variation will let us know what you thought.

  12. Carol Prescott says:

    Although the recipe sounds fantastic, it is not vegetarian!! Prosciutto and anchovies… I was disappointed. Probably could leave them out.

  13. Mark says:

    For those who are vegetarian and not able to eat prosciutto you could simply substitute domestic ham in this recipe and be good to go.

  14. Amanda says:

    This torte looks incredible! I love prosciutto, and anchovies!! How many ounces is the “tin” of crushed tomatoes?

  15. Kare says:

    I’ve been a veggie for about 10 years now, and never did try proscuitto before I made the leap. I think I missed out. :)

    Looks awesome!

  16. Suzy says:

    searched for the girl’s website online, and found it! go to

    1. grace says:


      their link is in the first sentence of this post :)


  17. lisa says:

    Can you tell me about those cute little bowls you use for holding olive oil?

  18. andrea says:

    i made it this weekend and my boyfriend loves it! it is so tasty and looks really wonderful.

    yummy :o)

  19. Sara says:

    Thanks for all your comments.

    The beautiful little leaf-shaped saucers were my grandmothers; I must ask my mother the story behind them.

    A tin of tomatoes weighs approximately 400g in NZ, I am unsure of tin/can weights in the US. I would say buy one close to 14 ounces.

    In response to the vegetarian topic, Kristina has given fabulous advice; just remove the prosciutto and anchovies for a vegetarian option.

    If you want to go a step further and make this recipe vegan, remove the grated parmesan and the egg (for eggwash). Just brush the top of the torta with a little water instead.

    Sara and Emma.


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