Savory Vegetable Pies

When you think of Italian cuisine, do you think of the humble vegetable pie? I thought not.

The Italian savory vegetable pie is a triumph of pretty healthy eats. Furthermore, variations are found in many places in Italy. I like a slice for breakfast. You can get torta d’erbe in bars in the Lunigiana. My neighbor Francesca makes a good torta d’erbe without a crust, but with bread crumbs on top. Around Easter, especially in Liguria, you’ll find an Easter Pie usually filled with spinach or herbs, ricotta cheese and eggs.

Below is a picture of a commercial torta you’d get at a bar in Tuscany.

torta delle erbe
The torta delle erbe of Tuscany

While on a culinary tour with Italian Culinary Adventures, I discovered Erbazzone in Modena at our hotel breakfast bar. It’s like the Lunigiana Torta d’ erbe, only the filling is spinach and the local Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Sometimes it’s kicked up a notch with some crispy pancetta.

erbazzone
Erbazzone, Modena, photo by Traci

It was, like much of the food of Modena, fantastic.

Travel Tip: Engage!

So we’re leaving the breakfast room in the Milano Palace Hotel in Modena and we see our waitress about to scamper by us. She had served us somewhat glumly, as if Italy had just elected a fascist government or something. We stopped her to ask what we’d eaten. Her eyes lit up. She described Erbazzione with a passion often let loose at a soccer game or a when admiring a passing Ferrari. We told her we really like it. Gladness steamed from her in a torrent. It’s a good thing, because the current drought has caused most of the other torrenti to run dry.

People the world over love it when you want to discuss what they do or eat. Find a common language and talk to them. You’ll often be rewarded. You might even get better food. Engaging a waiter is sometimes the best thing to can do to ensure a fantastic experience in a European restaurant. It’s not just me. Julia Child and Luigi Barzini will confirm the strategy. See: How to Get Good Food in Italy.

Erbazzone Deconstructed

With the help of the participants of our Modena adventure, who’ve provided details of their meal at Modena’s Antica Moka, I can describe to you a dish I didn’t eat. It is this:

erbazzone deconstructed
Erbazzone deconstructed, Antica Moka restaurant, Modena - photo by Dana.

The menu describes the dish as “Once upon a time there was Erbazzone” with Parmigiano parfait and crispy bacon. Reinterpretation of the Emilian savory pie.

Ronda Vilardo, the ringleader of the gang who runs Italian Culinary Adventures, describes it thusly:

Parmesan “ice cream” is just super cold parm mouse with crispy Modena bacon on top and the swish was parm cream. The cracker was light as air. I could eat one right now.

I leave you with a quote from Top Italian Chef Massimo Bottura, who I think would have liked this dish and its “modernization”. As he told Reuters:

I am looking at the past in a critical way, not in a nostalgic one, to bring the best of the past into the future, to renew tradition, exactly as Ferrari does every day.


Disclaimer: We did our culinary tour of Modena compliments of Italian Culinary Adventures.

More on the Italian Region of Emilia Romagna

The Day I Joined the Real Lambrusco Revolution

Marzabotto: The Street of Thoughts & Reading

Stanguellini Automobili Museum, Modena

Castell’Arquato: The Medieval Comes Alive

Biblioteca Malatestiana: A Treasure in Cesena

More on Food in Italy

Lerici: Eating Fish in a cave, Dante, Underground War Shelters

The Taste of Sardinia

Ostaia De Banchi Restaurant Review

Bittersweet times in Rural Tuscany

Wine Travel

Savory Vegetable Pies originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Nov 19, 2022 © .

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