Traditional Rustic Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Torte gets “real”

July 8, 2011

Hey, welcome back!  Remember how I mentioned that I was being haunted by visions of tortes and fabulous family dinners?  Well, it’s a little more complicated than just that.  Ever since we moved to this fantastic state, and discovered a little restaurant chain called “Bertucci’s”, my hauntings have become much more specific in nature.  You see, Bertuccis has this A-mazing torta that goes in their brick oven.  Now, I won’t go so far as to express my desire for a brick oven out back, but I will say that ever since tasting this torta and all of its glory on Valentine’s Day, I have been determined to make it….determined, but also, too busy. Or so I thought, until I asked Kevin earlier this week the ever famous 2:30 in the afternoon question via email “What do you want for dinner tonight.”  His response: “Something yummy.”  Well, gee…that sure narrowed it down.  Kevin is pretty laid back when it comes to food- lucky for me.  So, without much guidance from my love, I decided…tonight was the night of the torte.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…”that sounds like a hell of a lot of work when you could just go up the street and order one instead”. BUT, bear with me, because in under 45 minutes, you’ll have an insanely impressive and delicious dinner that really only takes about 5 minutes of prep work- AND gives you the groundwork for a 10 minute meal later in the week. Now that I’ve caught your attention again, let’s cook, shall we?

Do not groan at this list of ingredients.  It looks scarier than it really is, I promise.

2 medium zucchinis or yellow squash
4 roma tomatoes
1 red onion
1 mini** eggplant (see note below)
1 package of Perdue Short Cuts (I like the wine/ garlic ones)
1 canister/package Pillsbury Pizza Crust (in the cooler section at the store)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Your fave marinara
Olive Oil

First things first, get that oven preheating at 450.

Cut up the following veggies (Unless, of course, you enjoy the modern conveniences of a grocery store that has this done for you in their produce section. WIN!)
– 2 medium sized zucchinis or yellow squash, cut into circle medallions
– 1/2 a red onion, sliced in circles then separated into rings (Thanks, Giant!)
– 4 roma tomatoes, sliced in circles
– 1 mini** eggplant, sliced in circles, then halved
**Our Giant had these cute eggplants that were about 1/2 or 1/3 of the size of a regular eggplant…perfect amount.  IF your store does not have this, don’t fret…just get a regular one, and roast all of it.

Once your veggies are chopped, plop them on a baking dish and drizzle them with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pop them in the oven for about 25 minutes.  In the meantime, you can prep your dough! (Did you just groan again??)

Now, Martha and Julia…and all our friends from the 50’s for that matter… would have you make this from scratch and let it rise. Blah blah blah.  I, on the other hand, let the nice people at Pillsbury do that for us.  After all,  that little doughboy has to earn a living somehow!  So, what I REALLY mean when I say prep your dough, is this:
                      Go to the fridge and take out the canister thing of Pillsbury pizza crust.  Unwrap the paper, stab at the seam with your spoon, and inevitably jump when it finally pops open. (You snicker, but it happens every time, and you know it)  Unroll your dough onto a baking sheet and cut it in half so you have 2 squares. *huff, puff, huff puff* Done.  Dough prepped.  That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Now, for the next 15 minutes or so, kick back- pour a glass of wine!  Or, if you feel the urge, set the table.  I’ll opt for the wine, thanks.  If you feel SUPER ambitious- make a little salad. (ie, open the bag of salad)

Great! Once your veggies are delightfully roasted, take them out, but keep your oven cruisin at a toasty 450.  Spoon a bit of your fave marinara onto your dough, leaving the edges sauce free- we’ll need those in just a minute!  Spoon some of the veggies in (aren’t they lovely? Gosh- you are a culinary marvel!) and add a dollop of ricotta cheese.  Finally top it off with Perdue Short Cuts chicken.  I am partial to the wine/garlic variety that they just came out with.  You won’t need the whole package, just enough to look sufficient.  Fold over the edges of the dough, pinching as you go, making a bit of a “lip” for your torte until you get the whole way around.  At this point, our classic ladies would insist that you brush the dough with an egg wash.  I will insist that you don’t bother- it’s fine, really.  Pop those babies in the oven for 15 minutes and bask in the glory of your yummy food adventure.

But wait- there’s those extra veggies on the tray!  Here are 3 ideas that will have your other leftovers shaking in their tupperware.

1) Roasted Veggie Pasta- if you can boil water, you can do this!  Prepare linguine as directed on the box.  Note that a wheat pasta adds a nice nutty element to the dish.  While the pasta is doing it’s thing, toss your veggies in your fave sauce, (A basil pesto sauce works great- go store bought, it’s fine!) and put in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Toss the veggie/sauce combo with your linguine, and PRESTO. Dinner is done!

2) Roasted Veggie Subs- top open faced subs with veggies and a slice of provolone cheese.  Put under broiler for 5-7 minutes (keep your eye on them so they don’t burn).  Yum!

3) Roasted Veggie Soup- prepare tomato soup in a pot.  Add veggies and blend using a “Stick” or immersion blender.  Fantastic with asiago foccacia from the store!

Try them out-I promise, it’s not hard and your tummy will thank you.
Until next time…happy eating,

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