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
OR
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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Comments

  1. Maris (In Good Taste) says:

    This gorgeous. It looks like a vegetable cake!

    • 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.

  2. 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!

  3. Caroline @ chocolate and carrots says:

    Looks delicious!

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

  5. 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!

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

  7. Wow this is gorgeous. Perfect for gatherings!

  8. The Harried Cook says:

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

  9. 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.

  10. Claire Gallam says:

    Carolyn, this LOOKS AMAZING!!!

  11. Parsley Sage says:

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

  12. 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!

  13. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says:

    Your torta is gorgeous! This is something I'd love to make for company!

  14. I can't stop staring at these pictures! This torta looks so fluffy and yummy!!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. Torviewtoronto says:

    deliciously done I am bookmarking this looks wonderful

  18. Jeanette says:

    Carolyn,
    This vegetable torta looks so beautiful, I love all the different colors!

  19. Charlie @ SweetSaltySpicy says:

    This looks amazing! Definitely need to try it!!!

  20. 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!

  21. Mike@ The Culinary Lens says:

    Beautiful presentation..And delicious I am sure

  22. Turmericnspice says:

    love it !!!!!! looks absolutely perfect

  23. 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 :)

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. What a beautiful end result! I love how many delicious vegetables you've managed to fit in there.

  27. lisaiscooking says:

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

  28. 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.

  29. 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 :)

  30. Cookin' Canuck says:

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

  31. 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!
    Hugs,
    Terra

  32. 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!

  33. 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

  34. sweetlife says:

    I would love to serve this for our next sister brunch party. tasty!

    sweetlife
    thanks for sharing

  35. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says:

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

  36. Kathy - Panini Happy says:

    What a beautiful vegetable cake! You did such a great job with it. :-)

  37. What a wonderful healthy recipe – like a frittata, but a lot more elegant looking. Nicely done!

  38. This is absolutely gorgeous!!! I love all of the beautiful colored vegetables!

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

  40. Nora @ Natural Noshing says:

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

  41. 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…

    -Shilpa

  42. 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 :)

  43. Oh my gosh, that's just packed with so many good things-it looks incredible!

  44. 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.

  45. 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!

  46. 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!

  47. 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.

  48. 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!

  49. made this today – a lot of work, but a huge hit! thanks!

  50. Love this! It’s so very good and it’s beautiful.

  51. 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!

  52. 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!

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

    • 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! :)

  55. 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.

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

Trackbacks

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