Vegetarian Spinach and Ricotta Torta

Serve as an appetizer or with a salad.

Ingredients

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

12 c. seasoned dry breadcrumbs

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

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8 oz. Baby Bella (cremini) mushrooms, washed, stems trimmed, and mushrooms grated onto a double layer of paper towels

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or ½ tsp. dried thyme

10 oz.-package frozen spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out

8 oz. whole milk or part-skim ricotta cheese

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ c. grated Fontina cheese (mild cheddar may be substituted)

¼ c. finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

¾ tsp. salt, plus more to taste

⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Use 1 tbsp. olive oil to oil an 8-inch spring-form pan. Sprinkle pan with breadcrumbs, making sure to coat all interior surfaces with crumbs; set aside.

Heat remaining 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat

Add onions and sauté until just tender, one to two minutes. Gather paper towels around mushrooms and squeeze excess liquid out over the sink. Add mushrooms to pan, along with thyme and a large pinch of salt; sauté for three minutes or until all moisture has evaporated. Remove pan from heat; reserve mixture. 

Stir together drained spinach, ricotta cheese, eggs and Fontina cheese in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and add reserved onion and mushroom mixture; fold ingredients together. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as needed.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan and use a wooden spoon to smooth and even it out. Evenly sprinkle top of torta with Parmesan cheese. Bake torta until the center is set and is firm to the touch, 45-50 minutes. 

Let torta cool to room temperature on a rack in the pan before removing sides. Remove sides; slice and serve. Torta can be served at room temperature or chilled and can be refrigerated for up to three days. If refrigerating before slicing, do so with the sides of the pan still locked.

Makes eight slices.