Idaho® Potato Torta with Tomato Sauce
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 5 to 6 whole tomatoes, peeled and sliced
- 2/3 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
- To taste salt
- To taste freshly ground black pepper
- 1 eggplant, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 zucchini, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 3 red peppers, halved and seeded
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1 cup sliced domestic mushrooms
- 6 Idaho® potatoes
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups 6 ounces Mesclun mix (seasonal and wild greens)
- 1/2 cup cooked or canned black beans, drained
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Advance preparation notes: Rinse the basil leaves in cool water to remove any sand or dirt, then spin the leaves dry in a salad or herb spinner before cutting into slivers. The tomato sauce can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and held in the refrigerator. The eggplant and zucchini can be grilled the day before. The onion, red pepper, and garlic can be roasted up to one day ahead. The mushrooms can be sautéed up to one day ahead. The entire torta could be assembled up to 24 hours in advance, if desired, then covered up and refrigerated until you are ready to bake it.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced onion and stir to coat with the oil. Cover the pan and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the onion is limp and translucent but not browned.
- Add the sliced tomatoes and simmer over low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove it from the heat, and puree the tomatoes and onions in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Return the pureed tomatoes to the saucepan and add the chopped fresh basil. Keep the sauce warm until needed.
- Mix 1/2 cup of olive oil with salt and pepper. Brush the seasoned oil over the sliced eggplant, zucchini, pepper and onion.
- Grill the eggplant and zucchini over hot coals until the outside is marked by the grill, but do not completely cook. Place on a platter and reserve until needed.
- Place the red pepper, onion and garlic on a baking sheet and roast them in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until evenly browned and tender. Reserve the onion and garlic until needed.
- Let the pepper cool in closed paper or plastic bag, then remove the peel. Peel the peppers cut into wide strips and reserve until needed.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the mushrooms from the heat, add the roasted onions, and let them cool to room temperature.
- Boil the potatoes in very lightly salted water until they can be easily pierced with a paring knife or kitchen fork. While the potatoes cook, heat the milk until steamy, but do not boil. Drain the potatoes, then puree the potatoes and roasted garlic through a sieve, potato ricer, or food mill. Add the hot milk, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine the remaining chopped basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan, and press half of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9-inch springform pan to form an even layer. Top the breadcrumb mixture with the grilled eggplant and zucchini. Add one-third of the potatoes, and spread into an even layer. Cover the potatoes with the roasted pepper and top that with another third of the potatoes. Cover this layer with the onion and mushrooms. Top with the remaining third of the potatoes. Press the torta loosely with foil or parchment paper.
- Place the covered torta in the oven set at 350 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs form a crisp, golden crust. (If the torta came directly from the refrigerator, bake the torta at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove the cover and increase the heat to 350 for the final 6 to 8 minutes of baking time.)
- Remove the torta from the oven, and let it rest for 15 minutes. In a salad bowl, toss the mesclun mix with the black beans. Add the red wine vinegar, ¼ cup of olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste and toss until evenly coated.
- Reheat the tomato sauce over low heat until it reaches a simmer. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Unmold the torta and slice it into 6 wedges. Pool some of the tomato sauce on a heated plate, top with a slice of torta, and arrange the salad on a plate.