Think of this as a crustless quiche. Layers of cheese, chard, and prosciutto ham are bound with custard and baked in a cake pan. This is a great buffet or picnic dish, and it's delicious hot, at room temperature or cold. Other ingredients can be added or substituted, such as oven-dried tomatoes, salami or sausage, roasted peppers, sautéed mushrooms, grilled eggplant or zucchini. Use your imagination!
1 ½ cup
diced yellow onions (1/4-inch dice)
1 ½ lb
rainbow or Swiss chard (stems removed, leaves cut crosswise into 1-inch ribbons)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
grated mozzarella cheese
grated provolone cheese
grated parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
unbleached all-purpose flour
heavy (whipping) cream
thinly sliced prosciutto ham
Butter a 9-inch round baking dish or cake pan that's at least 2 inches deep (a classic straight-sided soufflé dish works well). Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the dish, place in the bottom of the dish, and butter its top surface. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick) and cook the onions over medium-high heat until they're soft, stirring frequently, 4 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and chard. Cover the skillet and cook until the chard wilts, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with pepper to taste and set aside. Note that no salt is needed because the ham and cheeses contribute enough saltiness to the dish.
Combine the mozzarella, provolone and Parmigiano or Pecorino cheeses in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the ricotta with the flour. Stir in the cream. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add the milk and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper and mix well.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
To assemble the torte, spread half of the cheese mixture in a layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour enough custard into the pan to moisten the cheeses. Arrange half the prosciutto in a layer on top of the cheese. Arrange half of the chard on top of the proscuitto layer, and add another layer of custard to almost cover the chard.
Repeat this layering procedure with the remaining ingredients, adding custard to each layer so that the torte will bind together. Use all of the custard.
Place a round of parchment paper on top of the torte and cover the pan tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the filling pulls away from the side of the pan and the torte has set in the middle, 10 to 20 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on the pan you use. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick or wooden skewer into the center of the torte; it should come out dry.
Transfer the torte to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes before unmolding. To unmold, place a plate over the top of the dish and invert the torte onto the dish gently. Peel the parchment from the bottom of the torte and serve.