An easy recipe that’s as gourmet as can be
A torta (not to be confused with a tortilla, which is an omelet) is the Spanish version of a crustless quiche, although it’s a bit lighter. It is easy to prepare, looks like a showpiece, and of course it’s marvelously delicious.
Today’s torta is made with broccoli sautéed with fresh cayenne pepper (which spikes up the dish without making it spicy-hot) and a sublime clothbound cheddar. If you’ve never tasted clothbound cheddar, you’re in for an exhilarating ride! It reminds me of the famed English Farmhouse Cheddar, with all its sweet caramel and tangy, nutty, deep, complex flavors.
A tribute to fine cheesemaking, from Vermont to Wisconsin
My first introduction to clothbound cheddar was in Vermont, where I tasted Cabot Creamery’s exceptional clothbound cheddar, which is crafted by the expert cheesemakers of the Cellars at Jasper Hill. There, the young cheddar wheels are wrapped in muslin, then aged for 10 to 14 months in carefully controlled temperature, humidity and airflow. Special molds start to grow on the cloth, and in time they impart to the cheese its signature flavor. I fell in love!
A couple of years later, though, my love affair with clothbound cheddar took an even more delicious turn: While visiting Wisconsin, I was invited to Bleu Mont Dairy for a tour of their cave. This is where I finally had a close encounter with the superb cheese… one that I shall never forget. Stepping into Bleu Mont’s underground cave was exhilarating – rows of cheddar wheels, totem-like, were waiting patiently for the molds to work their magic. The pungent, earthy smell that hit my nostrils as I entered the cave made me want to move right in.
This torta is my tribute to Bleu Mont Dairy, to the Cellars at Jasper Hill and to all the cheesemakers whose skills and patience deliver such goodness to our tables.
Say cheese… and torta!
Murray’s Cheese, based in NYC, sells both Cabot’s and Bleu Mont’s cheddars. They ship anywhere in the US. Make sure to order enough for this recipe and for savoring the cheese on its own.
Food & wine pairing: California Chardonnay with broccoli and cheddar torta
Here’s where a California Chardonnay can shine! The texture and weight of the wine goes perfectly with the richness of the cheese, while pairing wonderfully with the broccoli too..
Broccoli and clothbound cheddar torta
serves 6 to 8
active time: 45 min
For the broccoli
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (to blanch the broccoli)
- 1 large bunch broccoli (1 1/2 lbs) (680 g) – florets cut in 1 1/2″ pieces (6 cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small cayenne pepper – stem removed and finely chopped or 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the torta
- 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 8 extra large eggs – lightly beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan
- 8 oz (225 g) clothbound cheddar (or aged cheddar) – coarsely grated
- 9″ non-stick spring-form pan – lightly buttered and floured
- Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
- Step 1: Rinse the broccoli, trim off the stalks and cut florets in 1 1/2″ pieces. Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes. Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and blanch the florets for 2 minutes until barely tender. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath until cool. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, cayenne and garlic. Sauté for 15 seconds, until the garlic begins to sizzle and release its flavor. Add the broccoli and toss until the florets are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with the salt. Toss again and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
- Step 3: Place the flour in a large bowl. Add a bit of the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the balance of the milk and whisk until well blended. Add the cream and whisk again until well blended. Add the eggs, salt and pepper and whisk until well blended. Add the cheeses and broccoli and stir until well incorporated. Pour the broccoli-egg mixture into the prepared mold and spread the broccoli pieces evenly in the pan. Place on a jelly roll pan (to avoid spills) and bake for about 1 hour until the center has risen and the top is golden-brown and puffed up. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding. Serve warm.
- Cook’s note 1: The torta can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept in its mold in a cool place at room temperature. Before serving, bake at 375ºF (190ºC) for 6 to 8 minutes until warm.
- Cook’s note 2: If you decide to cut the recipe in half, make sure to use a smaller mold… otherwise, the torta will be too thin and dry.
- Older springform pans don’t have as tight a grip as new ones, so here’s a trick to prevent leakage: Remove the rim from the springform pan and butter the bottom part of the pan. Cut parchment paper in a 12″ x 12″ square and line the bottom of the pan. (The butter will help the paper stick to it.) Then place the rim on top of the paper and fasten it. Next, butter the bottom and sides of the pan and dust with flour. This will also make unmolding your torta a breeze!
Hi Viviane, I have made this torta many times and my family loves it! Today I am making it to bring to an event tomorrow. How do you suggest I reheat it ? Many thanks.
Betty, I apologize for this late reply. I’ve been busy of late that it’s hard for me to keep up with the comments in a timely fashion! The re-heating instructions are in the “Cook’s note (below the last step of the recipe). I am delighted you’re making this torta often. It’s a favorite here too! Thank you so much for your note… and bon appétit!
Great recipe Viviane! Easy delicious beautiful! Take a look at my pictures if you’d like. https://www.facebook.com/CookingChicks/posts/405955686269666
Hi Viviane, This is exactly my kind of meal. Loved the video and cheese details. Great recipe and tip on cutting the broccoli!
Great new look Vivianne! The header with the tomatoes is quite lovely. And that torte – breathtaking! Can’t get prettier than that and I love the use f the aged cheddar.
It’s definitely a showpiece! It’s gorgeous. Love the cross section of broccoli in the slice. And, the cheese sounds divine.
Thank you, Lisa! I must say the cross section of the broccoli was a fluke! 😉
This is beautiful, healthy and delicious, and I am sure that even my toddler would love it, making it this weekend!
Thank you, Catalina! I made this torta for my nieces and they wolfed it down… As you know, that’s most gratifying. Happy baking!
Much prefer this to a quiche with crush and the cheese sounds amazing. I have made English Farmhouse Cheddar (yes made THE cheese) and loved it so can imagine what this cheese is like.
Wow this torta looks delicious! I am loving the height of it especially.. definitely a recipe I need to recreate!
Hi Thalia, Thank you for your kind words… I hope you enjoy this torta! Bon appétit!
As usual, I’m ready to get in the car and drive to your house for dinner. Amazing recipe. Beautiful.
I prefer crustless quiche….your torta looks scrumptious!
Thank you, Angie!
I have just made this torta. What a huge success! I have consumed 1/4 of it all by myself with no regrets. It was udderly delicious and worth every penny and time I spent tracking down the cloth bound cheddar. I found Cabot’s at my local Wegman’s. I will definately make it again. I used cayenne pepper instead of fresh cayenne. Also I reduced the salt by 1/2 tsp., because I am a little more sensitive to salt maybe than most.
I screwed up and set the oven for 350 degrees. Then I tried to compensate by baking it for an additional 10 mins at the correct temperature of 375 degrees. It turned out great…. Beautifully puffed and brown on top, moist with great flavor inside.
Thank you, Viviane
Hi Anna! You are most welcome. I am delighted to know you enjoyed this torta (and thank you also for all the details, which I loved reading)! I hope you saved some of the cloth-bound cheddar to enjoy on its own. Isn’t it absolutely stunning? Bon appétit!