This recipe is quite labour intensive, but it looks so impressive, and better still, it tastes so delicious and unusual, that it was worth the extra effort.
It is made of stacked noodle pancakes, with the creamy spinach layered in between to make a very high savoury, vegetarian torte! Added to this is a tomato and capsicum sauce which just finishes this delicious meal off.
It could also be eaten at room temperature making it great for lunches and/or snacks.
I used a mixture of frozen spinach as well as a fresh bunch of silverbeet as the silverbeet was just too expensive to buy 1 kilo.
Ingredients For the pancake torte 1 kg spinach or frozen spinach
600 g ricotta cheese
50 g pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp cream
200 g fresh egg noodles
75 g plain flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
For the sauce 1½ medium red capsicums
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tin crushed tomatoes (400 g)
Basil leaves (optional)
Method For the sauce
This can be made a day ahead and heated up just before serving.
Preheat the oven to moderate - hot.
Cut the capsicums in quarter, and remove seeds. Cut one end off the garlic (mine exploded in the oven as I did not do this!).
Add the oil to the capsicum and garlic, and put in a small baking dish, and bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cover the capsicum with some foil and stand for a few minutes.
Peel off the skin, squeeze the pulp out of the garlic and put it all in a blender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan and cook the onion until it is soft. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to the boil.
Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add this mixture to the blender and if using, add the basil, and blend until it is a smooth sauce.
For the pancake torte
As I used both fresh and frozen spinach, I had to steam the fresh spinach (after cutting out the thick white stalks) for a minute or until it just wilts.
With the frozen spinach, I just defrosted it, put it in a sieve, and pressed all the liquid out of it.
When the fresh spinach was cool enough, I chopped it up and also put it in the sieve to get all the liquid out.
Put this spinach in a large bowl and mix with the ricotta, nuts and cream.
Cook the noodles as per packet instructions, and here I found in my pantry, a packet of egg noodles that were chopped up ready for soup. If you have ordinary egg noodles, chop them into pieces when they have cooled down.
Put the flour in another large bowl and gradually add the beaten eggs and milk. Beat this until it is smooth.
Stir in the chopped noodles.
Preheat the oven to moderate and using a 20 cm frypan, slightly oil this. Add some of this pancake, noodle mixture and smooth out.
I bought this wooden "thing" to smooth pancakes, and it is brilliant
Cook till it browns slightly and turn over -do not worry if it breaks when you turn it as if you smooth it out, it will cook back together!
Get a 20 cm deep cake tin, and I used one with a removable bottom, and put some baking paper in it. Add the first pancake to this.
Put another pancake in the frypan and spread a third of the spinach mixture on top of the pancake in the cake tin.
Continue until you have 3 layers ending with a pancake, which means you want to make four pancakes.
Bake, covered, in the oven for about 30 minutes or until it is heated through.
Cut into wedges, like a cake.
Serve with the delicious sauce which can be heated just before you serve.