Summer Vegetable Torta (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


Spring doesn’t really exist in Boston, except perhaps in our collective imaginations. It’s a very odd thing. Instead of the mercury slowly inching its way up the thermometer over the course of several months, it swings wildly back and forth from frigid to sweltering. One moment it can seems like we are back in winter, and the next we are all in danger of suffering heat stroke. There appear to be very few of what I consider true “spring” days, those blessed days of bright sunshine and warm, gentle breezes. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I remember a more gradual transition from winter to summer from my Ontario childhood, with each day just a little bit warmer and the promise of summer just a hint on the breeze. This year, however, it really felt like we jumped straight out of winter and into summer, no stops in between, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Don’t get me wrong, I like summer. I love summer. There is so much to love about summer, not least of which is the amazing bounty of fresh produce. In our own garden we have planted lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and various herbs. We also appear to have a few volunteer pumpkin plants, probably from seeds that were in our compost. Our homegrown veggies won’t be ready for quite some time, but local Farmer’s Markets start as early as next week and I can hardly wait. I am a bit of Farmer’s Market whore, keeping my eye on the schedule of the towns around mine, hopping from one to the other. In the summer, I try to get as much of our fresh produce from the little markets as possible.

This recipe is one that caught my eye as the perfect vehicle for fresh summer veggies. It’s in a funny little cookbook, given to us by my parents-in-law, called The Gourmet Potluck. I almost forgot I had it until my mother was here, and we both began browsing my cookbook library. Given that the original contained three cups of cubed bread, it needed a little overhaul to be suitable for this low carber’s consumption. In the end, I modified it quite a bit. I had no fresh peppers, having used them all up earlier in the week. Thank goodness for a jar of Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Peppers in the pantry. The summer squash at the grocery store didn’t look so hot, so I skipped that altogether. I added some minced garlic, because what’s an egg dish without garlic? And since I was forgoing the bread cubes, I decided to use the cream cheese, which was supposed to simply be cubed, as a way to thicken the egg mixture. I beat it in, almost like I would with a cheesecake.

The Results: The lack of bread obviously really changed things, because I found I had to bake the torta much longer, almost double the time, to make it set. But it really turned out beautifully. A high-sided, vegetable-filled cake, almost, dense and filling and flavourful. It has so many veggies in it, you don’t need a side salad or any such thing. I found one large slice enough for my whole dinner, but you could pair it with bread for a bigger meal.

It really would be a great potluck dish, as you can make it ahead of time and either warm it just prior to eating or eat it cold. We ate ours room temperature and I think it was perfect that way. I can imagine any number of variations, with different vegetables and cheese. Perhaps a spring vegetable torta with asparagus and gruyere? It’s a keeper of a recipe, for certain.

Summer Vegetable Torta

3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 red peppers, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1 12 oz jar marinated red peppers,
dreained and cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350F and brush bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with oil. Line bottom with parchment and brush parchment with oil. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and fresh peppers, if using. Saute until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs until combined (it’s okay if it’s a little lumpy). Beat in cream or half and half. Stir in garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon to drain off liquid, add sauteed vegetables to egg mixture, then add drained marinated peppers, if using. Add shredded cheese. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine.

Spread mixture in prepared pan and set pan on baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 hours or until top is puffy and golden brown and the center no longer jiggles when shaken. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in pan, then run a sharp knife around edges of torta to loosen. Gently remove pan sides. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Serves 8 (large slices). Each serving has 8.25g of carbs and 1.5g of fiber.

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    • Cheryl D. says

      Tested, tried and terrific. Exactly as shown in the picture. Such a versatile recipe as you can add your preferred veggies. Beautiful presentation. Works in glass square pan as well. Thank you for sharing.

  1. Tiffany says

    This torta looks superb! I love how commanding it is (I'm used to seeing much thinner tortas!). And being from MA, I can totally relate to the lack of spring!

  2. Lizzy says

    Yeah, what happened to Spring????? Stunning torta! Really, absolutely beautiful…and how lucky we are that it's yummy, too…

  3. Pretend Chef says

    I had to laugh when our weather man informed us that a cold front was coming in. We went from pushing 100s to the low 90s. Haha! I do love the breeze it's been bringing in though. This is a recipe worth keeping for those days after I head to the Farmer's Market. Yummy!

  4. Audra says

    That looks amazing! I love that it could easily be a breakfast, lunch or dinner. That is a keeper. Bookmark!

  5. The Harried Cook says

    That looks absolutely amazing! That looks filling and very tasty… Gorgeous recipe. Definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom says

    This has all my favorite veggies that I like to put in an omelete or frittata but it's so much easier. It would be so great for a brunch – practically the centerpiece because it's so pretty.

  7. Parsley Sage says

    Hey man, if Summer means you rocking out awesome veggie 'cakes' like this I totally pfffffth Spring.

  8. Foodness Gracious says

    Wow, that looks like a vegetable Oscar winner (?) Truly a masterpeice and loving the low carb and veggie intake, this should be one for my little ones!

  9. Carrie says

    How gorgeous! I think I need to go get a springform pan so I can try this out. I eat low carb so this is just perfect for me.

  10. Erin says

    We usually seem to get spring in Iowa – but this year, it kind of never happened! This torta looks amazing! So pretty with all the veggies!

  11. janet says

    Only 3 of us for dinner tonight, so I cut the recipe in half & used a 9×5 bread pan, which I lined with parchment paper & oiled it…lifted right out beautifully. This was so delicious…we all LOVED it, and I'm looking forward to the leftover slice for breakfast. Excellent recipe!

  12. Kari says

    That really is a most amazing looking dish. I'm impressed with your ability to tweak it and still have it turn out so well! It will certainly suit summer when you finally get some consistent weather :)

  13. Lynn says

    Spring doesn't exist in Montreal either. I'd love to have more spring days..
    This recipe looks amazing. I think I might make mini versions for easily packed breakfasts to bring to work.

  14. All That's Left Are The Crumbs says

    This looks so good. I love all the vegetables in it and the high sides. I think it would be a great dish to take to a beach picnic.

  15. lisaiscooking says

    It's beautiful! The vegetables sound fantastic in it. I love how tall it stands. Great presentation.

  16. Kate@Diethood says

    Oh wow…that is a beauty … I want to frame it!!
    I really love this cake…gorgeous and delicious…you did an amazing job.

  17. Priscilla - She's Cookin' says

    This veggie torta is amazing! Love that you used a springform pan to achieve the high sides. I'm looking forward to the bounty of our garden, too. We've enjoyed lettuce and spinach, and now some green beans :)

  18. Cookin' Canuck says

    Carolyn, this is absolutely gorgeous. What a wonderful way to highlight all the wonderful veggies available at the farmer's market.

  19. Terra says

    I always think I have to include bread in everything….why? I don't know! I love the look of the torta, so hearty and filling. Really does look like a fun summer dish to make. Especially after your trip to the farmers market. I keep learning of ways to cook gluten-free, love it!

  20. Nami @ Just One Cookbook says

    Wow Carolyn, this is beautiful! This looks like a very nice party dish since it is colorful and looks very fancy! I love vegetable dish that doesn't look like veggies (for kids!). Thanks for sharing – bookmarked!

  21. Roxana GreenGirl says

    a little south we didn't have spring either, or it rains or it's way too hot :(
    the torta sounds and looks great. I'd love a big slice, yummy

  22. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    Wow this is just gorgeous. My mama would absolutely love this recipe. :) Thanks for sharing!

  23. Sandra says

    Wonderful recipe, and as always mouthwatering photos are every time better and better..Fantastic post!!

  24. Nora @ Natural Noshing says

    Oh my – how gorgeous! This is on my "must-make" list :) YUM! Thanks for the link love too!

  25. bakingdevils says

    I am so glad I stumbled across your blog and came across this recipe. It looks beautiful and with all the lovely summer vegetables around, I am so looking forward to making this…


  26. Claudie says

    This torta looks really really beautiful! Very summer-like with all those fresh and pretty colors. You can be sure I'll try this recipe :)

  27. Fresh and Foodie says

    Wow, this is really beautiful! I love that you used a springform pan for this — great idea. The perfect way to showcase all the delicious goodies inside.

  28. Karen says

    This is just stunning! I love the colors and the way the veggies are throughout. Also a way to clear out the produce bins. Definitely a keeper!

  29. Matthew Horbund says

    Looks delicious! I wish I saw this last week! It would have gone well with the rose and white wines I shared with friends on Saturday!

  30. Erica says

    I made this last night, my husband and I absolutely LOVED it! Such an elegant spin on crustless quiche. I will definitely be remaking this with different vegetables.

  31. Anonymous says

    I made this over the summer and it was amazing. I am now about to make it a second and third time (today for the family and next weekend for a church potluck). I will try to experiment a little with different vegetables and see how that works since my wife isn't very keen on zucchini. Thanks for this recipe!

  32. Susan says

    This does look delicious, but how much fat and how many calories? Cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs, etc. etc. Wow, may be low in carbs, but not calories! I will try anyway when I have company. Would love to know calories, tho. Thanks!

  33. B J says

    Am I the only one that doesn’t understand the length of time to cook this. Sounds like a very delicious dish and it is so pretty. I would love to try it. Just need to be clear on the time it takes to bake.

    • Carolyn says

      I will write it out in text, in case the numbers look weird on the recipe….that’s one and a half to one and three-quarter hours to bake. Anywhere in that vicinity, depending on the temperature of your oven. Hope that helps!

  34. Mel says

    Too much basil! I loove basil, but I’d only use 1-2 TBS. Also I cooked it for exactly 1.5 hours, and when I opened the oven, the top was burnt, hard, and brown. The inside was still soft and moist, though. It tasted good overall, just needs a little adjusting.

  35. says

    This is so beautiful. I know it’s an ancient post, but I have a question. I’ve never made a torta, but since it usually has bread in it (as you say) how do you think it would work with some low-carb bread in it. I just made your almond bread ( the one associated with your French Toast recipe) and I’m thinking that might not be so bad to incorporate into this.

    BTW, I was just going through some old low carb recipes in FoodGawker, and I was able to spot your recipes almost every time because your food arranging and photography is so high quality and distinctive.

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Marcia, I think some low carb bread would be fine, but it will certainly change the texture and possibly the baking time. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t say exactly how. Just keep a close eye on it in the oven. And thank you for the compliment on the photography! :)

  36. Dawn says

    I followed the recipe exactly as written, baked
    it for 1 3/4 hrs at 350. It was golden,
    edges slightly browned & after about 15 min of
    cooling ran a knife around the edge. I have not
    tasted it yet, as I’m taking it to a party, but
    it sure looks beautiful!! I think it will make
    for yummy leftovers for breakfast or lunch tomorrow.

  37. Cheryl D. says

    Tested, tried and terrific. Such a versatile recipe and beautiful presentation. Can also use square glass pan. Thank you for sharing.

  38. another cook says

    I wonder if a water bath would shorten the time in the oven. You have created a beautiful vegetable cheesecake. I would recommend wrapping the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil before you put the metal sides of the pan on; it helps keep out the water. Wrap with heavy aluminum foil on the outside to prevent water from seeping in. The water bath will provide gentle heat for the vegetable cheesecake.

  39. says

    What a terrific recipe! Just made this for a brunch with five people and we gobbled it all up. I used about 2 tbs of basil and Italian blend cheese (we aren’t Swiss cheese fans). This one is a keeper!

    Thanks for creating this winner!

  40. Jamie says

    CHEESE SUBS? I have everything except the cheese. I have plenty of sharp cheddar. Can you explain how you might use gruyere with asparagus instead of swiss? I never really know how to pair ingredients.

    SPINACH? Also I want to add spinach. Should I blanche it and add it to the eggs or just add it raw to the bake.

  41. Anne o says

    Ok this is the best recipe in the world. Ive made it 3 times, today I baked it early 7am and added one jalepeno pepper to the sautéed veggies. At 75 minutes mine was done perfectly. It is delicious hot out of the oven. It is delicious at room temperature. It is delicious day 2 or 3 cold out of the refrig. Awesome main course for every meal during summer. Thanks Carolyn.


  1. […] Summer Vegetable Torta from All Day I Dream About Food:  Whether in the form of an omelet, frittata, or muffin, I love a perfectly set egg dish. Unfortunately, most cooks these days are in such a rush (*ahem* my family), they tend to overcook a dish completely and lose the wonderful fluffy texture that eggs have to offer. As you can see from the picture, that wasn’t the case for Carolyn! Her torta is low carb, gluten free, and so chock-full of veggies I get excited just looking at the pictures. […]

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