Long, hot days of August go hand-in-hand with the incredible diversity of ripening summer produce. Our farmers’ market has its tables overflowing with a profusion of colors, shapes and selection. With perfect temperatures, occasional rain and long days of sunshine it’s been a great growing season here in southwest Montana. Having lots and lots of green beans in our garden got me searching for new ways to enjoy them. A moist and sturdy Italian Tortino is my recipe of the moment. This savory pie contains a full pound of tender and crisp green beans along with caramelized purple onion, local, golden-yolked eggs, grated sharp pecorino cheese and plenty of fresh basil and parsley.
We have pole and bush beans in greater abundance than ever in our small garden. Could be because this year Paul planted the entire packet of “bush bean” seeds. Strange, though. Half of the seeds grew into round bush beans. The other half into flat (and some with strings) pole beans. 😉
We created a trellis for the pole beans which they’ve already outgrown. We cut back their tops to stem their growth, though that didn’t work. The plants just continue to grow and produce more beans daily. Quite a treat, actually.
These freshly harvested, garden-grown beans are crisp and tender and subtly sweet. So very different from typical supermarket beans. With lots of fresh beans we’ve been enjoying them Wrinkled, in a salad with fresh tomatoes, in a Long-Cooked Green Bean Stew, and in this savory Tortino di Fagiolini.
Say it like your Italian
For the pure enjoyment of the sound of these words, here’s how the Italians say “tortino” (or tortini when plural) and fagiolini. It’s up to you to add the appropriate hand gestures.
In case you’re wondering. . .
The Tuscany, the Beautiful Cookbook states that “Tortino is another name for frittata but with the difference that tortini are sometimes cooked in the oven or, if over direct heat, on one side only until the eggs are almost set but still very moist on top.”
Yet, other sources play up their differences and similarities a bit more.
- Frittatas cook in a skillet on the stove top and then may be finished under the broiler.
- Like a frittata, tortini also include cheese and can be made with any number of vegetables.
- Tortini include milk or cream whisked into the eggs, and are baked in the oven.
- Some tortini recipes include a little flour whisked in with the milk and eggs for a more cake-like consistency.
Perhaps calling this savory egg pie a tortino or a frittata is a regional thing. Though, really what’s in a name when the end result is this tasty and satisfying?
This savory Italian Tortino contains a pound of fresh green beans along with caramelized purple onion, local, golden-yolked eggs, a little pecorino cheese and plenty of fresh basil and parsley. A great make-ahead recipe. Naturally gluten-free.
Inspired by and adapted from a recipe in the L.A. Times for Tortino di fagiolini.
Makes one 9-9 ½-inch glass pie plate or one 7 x 9-inch glass baking dish
Serves 4-6 as an entrée, more as an appetizer
Start to Finish 1 ½ hours including time for baking and cooling
1 pound green or yellow or purple beans, washed and stems removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large purple onion, thinly sliced stem end to root end (3 cups)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon mustard, homemade or Dijon style
Rounded ¼ teaspoon salt
8 twists freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup milk or unflavored, unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/3 cup grated, fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
3 tablespoons grated, fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a deep 9-9 ½ inch glass pie plate or 7 x 9 inch glass baking dish with olive oil.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over high heat. Stir in the green beans. When the water returns to the boil, start timing. Cook 4-5 minutes until just tender.
- Drain the beans. Place them in ice water to stop their cooking and set their color. Drain the beans once they are cool.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot stir in the sliced onion. Cover the pan. Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent and begin to color, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the crushed garlic. Cook uncovered until the onion caramelizes, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat to cool.
- While the onions are cooking, cut the beans into 1½ -2 inch pieces.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard, salt and freshly ground pepper, milk and the 1/3 cup of pecorino cheese.
- When the onions are cool, toss them with the green beans, basil and parsley. Stir the beans, herbs and onions into the egg mixture.
- Transfer to the prepared pan. Top with a sprinkling of the remaining 3 tablespoons of pecorino cheese.
- Bake the tortino on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes. Rotate the tortino 180 degrees and bake another 10-15 minutes until just set.
- Remove the tortino to a wire rack to cool before carefully cutting with a serrated knife.