entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: sara and emma

by Grace Bonney

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.

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