Tourte Milanese, also known as Tourte Milanaise. No, the second version does not include mayonnaise. Part of the family en croute, or encased in dough. Who doesn't want to eat food, soup, and anything edible wrapped in flaky, buttery dough? In this case, roasted peppers, herbed scrambled eggs, cheese, spinach, and meat.
You will feel quite accomplished pulling this out of the oven, and taking your first bite into the explosion of hot, flaky layers, melty cheese, herbs, sweet peppers, smoky meat, and garlicky spinach. It may look intimidating, but you can adjust this recipe to how much time and effort you want to put into it. For example, you can make your own puff pastry, or you can pick it up at the store. You could roast your own peppers, or buy a jar of already roasted peppers. Of course, I enjoy making everything as home-made and from scratch as possible...clearly don't have kids yet. I recommend reading through the recipe once or twice and taking a peek at my notes at the bottom to make your game plan. For example, puff pastry can easily be a two day recipe, so you'll want to make that a day ahead, or way ahead, and freeze it until you have the urge to make a recipe like this.
Want some inspiration? Watch this fun video of Julia Child and Michel Richard making Puff Pastry and Tourte Milanese!
For the Crust
1 lb. / 450g puff pastry, home-made or store bought
Egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
For the Eggs
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or green onion
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or basil
2 tsp snipped fresh tarragon or fresh or dried oregano
salt and ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp / 42g butter
For the Rest of the Filling
6 large red bell peppers (or use a 16oz jar or two of roasted red peppers)
1 1/2 lbs / 680g spinach
1 Tbsp / 14g olive oil
1 Tbsp / 14g butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
8 oz / 225g Swiss cheese
8 oz / 225g smoked turkey or ham
Generously grease an 8in / 20cm springform pan.
Make the Crust
Cut off 1/4 of the puff pastry, cover, and set aside.
Roll out the remaining pastry to 1/4" thick round. Be sure to roll it thin enough so it will have a chance to be baked all the way through in the oven. It should be big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your springform pan with an overhang. Carefully press into pan, being sure to press all the way into the corners. Cover and refrigerate.
Roll out the remaining 1/4 of puff pastry until it is 1/4" thick. Cut out an 8 in / 20cm circle, using an 8 in / 20cm pie plate or cake tin as a template. Place on a plate or baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate.
Make the Eggs
Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat and pour in eggs. Gently stir, continuously moving the setting eggs towards the center and allowing runny eggs to reach the bottom of the pan. When the whole mixture has started to thicken, but still a bit runny, remove from heat and pour onto a plate. Cover and refrigerate and until ready to use.
Roast the Peppers
Skip this step if you bought roasted red peppers.
Method 1: Place peppers over an open flame on your stove top until blackened. Flip and allow second side to roast. Repeat until all peppers have been roasted.
Method 2: Place all peppers onto a tinfoil lined sheet pan. Place under broiler in your oven, checking every few minutes, until peppers are blackened. Turn peppers over and roast second side.
Once peppers have been roasted, place in an airtight container or ziploc bag for about 20 minutes to steam.
Remove peppers and rub the skin off. Cut out the stems and slice from top to bottom, laying them flat. Remove seeds and trim away any inside veins.
Place peppers on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess liquid, cover, and refrigerate.
Blanch and Sauté the Spinach
Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil. Add spinach and blanch for 1 minute. Drain in a colander and rinse in cold water to stop it from cooking. Press the spinach to remove excess liquid.
Place oil, butter, and garlic in a large frying pan over medium heat. When garlic starts to sizzle, add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat and transfer spinach to a plate lined with paper towels. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Assemble the Tourte
Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.
Remove the pastry lined pan from the fridge, along with your eggs, peppers, spinach, cheese, and turkey/ham. Layer your ingredients in this order, laying them flat and spreading to the edge:
Half of eggs
Half of spinach
Half of turkey/ham
Half of cheese
All the peppers
Other half of cheese
Other half of turkey/ham
Other half of spinach
Other half of eggs
Trim the pastry overhang to within 1 in / 2.5cm of the pan. Brush the inner side with egg wash and fold over filling. Brush the other side with more egg wash.
Remove the round pastry top from fridge, re-rolling if it has shrunk any. Place over the folded edges of the tourte, pressing down to seal it. Brush with more egg wash. Cut a vent in the center of the dough, or use a knife to trace a design. Or, you can cut out shapes form the puff pastry scraps and decorate the top. Brush shapes with more egg wash. Chill assembled tourte in fridge for 30 minutes prior to baking.
Place tourte on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes - 1 hour 30 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and a deep golden brown.
Cool for 30 minutes before releasing from pan and serving.
Can be assembled a day ahead. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, place in an oven preheated to 350°F / 177°C for 20-30 minutes.
The recipe above is pretty traditional, however, it can easily be adjusted to your tastes.
Before layering in the filling, I suggest sprinkling the bottom with a grated hard cheese, such as parmesan, or bread crumbs, to avoid the soggy-bottom syndrome. I did a combo of cheese and bread crumbs.
For the herbed scrambled eggs, chives, parsley, and tarragon combo is more traditional, but I prefer green onion, basil, and oregano. To be completely honest I've never had tarragon, but from what I've read I can't say I have a real desire to.
Feel free to use whichever color peppers you like! I roasted multi-colored mini sweet peppers. The white from the eggs (ish), green from the spinach, and red from the peppers is supposed to resemble the colors of the Italian flag, but hey. I'm just making Italy more colorful than it already it is.
1 1/2 lbs of spinach may seem outrageous, but it really cooks down. I have used a scant pound before when that’s all I had, but the spinach is surprisingly delicious and I wouldn’t modify the recipe down if I had a choice.
Play around with cheeses! You'll want softer cheeses, ones that melt well. Think cheddar, gruyere, havarti, gouda, brie...I opted for half Swiss and half dill havarti. Two beautiful melting cheeses.
I pulled the tourte out of the oven after 1 hour 10 minutes, but it could have used more time to bake the pastry all the way through. It can be difficult to tell as your only clue is the color of the pastry.