I came across Tourte Milanase years ago. It’s a spectacular tour de force. And, as with most spectaculars, it requires a bit of preparation to get it finished. But when it’s done and you cut into it, the striking layers of green, red, pink and white are dramatic.
While impressive, it isn’t difficult but time has to be set aside for sure.
While I am making the original Tourte Milanese, feel free to switch out ingredients. Don't like spinach? Switch to marinated artichokes or broccoli. Trade the ham for turkey. Cheddar cheese would be good and you can really add excitement with hot pepperjack cheese.
Don’t let the length of the recipe deter you. Much of the prep can be made ahead to speed things along. The tourte can also be assembled and held completely baked or unbaked.
Both the book and the PBS series, Baking with Julia, featured Michel Richard along side Julia Child. It’s as relevant today as it was then. Tourte Milanase is the creation of Michel Richard, a French born pastry chef who was adventurous, jovial and fond of experimentation. Born in France, he became a citizen of the United States. He was known to be open to the many culinary influences of this country with his hybrid French-Californian take on food.
The original recipe featured puff pastry as its crust. But I feel the puff is too light for the hefty filling, so I changed it to one of my favorite savory crusts, pasta frolla as used in the Torta Rustica.
CLOCKWISE: Cake flour,eggs,salt, cream and unsalted butter.
I have no idea why I put the spinach in this photo. It is not included in the omelet.
FRONT ROW: Oregano, salt, and pepper
MIDDLE ROW: Parsley, water and chives
BACK ROW: (omit the spinach), eggs.
FRONT ROW: Garlic, nutmeg and salt
MIDDLE ROW: Pepper, olive oil and butter
BACK ROW: The spinach, and cream
Additional Items for the Assembly
CLOCKWISE: Swiss cheese, smoked ham, fire roasted red peppers and an egg
Using the ingredients listed in this recipe, the pasta frolla crust for the Tourte Milanese should be made just before assembly.
For ease of preparation, I used chopped frozen spinach and jarred fire roasted red peppers. For some reason, spinach stays frozen longer than any other vegetable we handled. Thaw a couple of days in the fridge or set it out at room temperature for several hours. Failing everything else, microwave it. It should be very well thawed. Drain in a colander and then squeeze the water out until it is very dry.
The red peppers should be well drained and patted dry or, if using fresh peppers they should be roasted and cooled.
Use your favorite ham as long as it isn’t loaded with water. If the ham has a casing, cut it off.
For the Omelets, I cut the chives and parsley and set them aside. When cooking the eggs, I sprinkled them with the herbs, salt and pepper before I flipped them over. Because they are large and awkward to flip, I cut each in half making it much less intimidating.
The omelets, spinach filling and red peppers can be made the day ahead and refrigerated making this a very manageable entree.
Have the ham and cheese sliced thinly.
Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1. Pour the 5 beaten eggs into a pan and sprinkle with the herbs. Step 2. Cut the omlet in half to make flipping it easier. Step 3. Flip each half over and finish cooking. Step 4. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. This can be done the day before and refrigerated if desired.
Step 5. Saute the spinach for several minutes. Step 6. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream. Mix quickly so the spinach absorbs the cream. The mixture should not show liquid. Step 6. Pour the spinach onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Cover with plastic wrap. This may be done the day before and refrigerated.
Step 9. Divide the dough in half. Divide one piece in half again, as seen in the top of 9. Roll into two 9" circles. Step 10. Place one circle in the bottom of the well sprayed pan securing it to the edge of the pan. Refrigerate the second round for the top, covering it with plastic wrap. Step 11. For the sides, divide the other half of the dough in 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 11x4" rectangle. As they are rolled, place them against the side of the pan. There will be a 1" overhang. The spray should keep it in place. Step 12 Continue in this manner with the 2 other pieces of dough completing the bottom crust. Join the seams well by pressing firmly together. Set aside.
Step 13. Place one of the egg omelets on the bottom of the crust. Step 14. Spread half of the spinach filling evenly over the omelet. Step 15. Add half of the cheese on top of the spinach. Step 16. Then half of the ham goes over the cheese.
Step 17. Cover the ham with all of the well drained, patted dry red peppers. Step. 18 Continue layering the the remaining ingredients in reverse order - ham, cheese, and spinach ending with the second omelet on top. Step 19. Turn the overhanging crust over the omelet. Step 20. Brush with egg wash.
Step 21. Remove the second circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it warm just slightly so it doesn't crack when added to the pan. Step 22. Place it on top and trim if necessary to make it fit tightly into the side. Step 23. Mark the top, without going through the dough into the desired number of pieces. Brush with egg wash and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before baking. Brush with egg wash again. Step 24. Bake until a dark medium brown.
The Tourte Milanese has a layered filling of vegetables, cheese and ham enclosed in a pastry crust.
The original crust was puff pastry as the tourte was designed by Michel Richard, a French chef of note. However, other, more substantial crusts can be used.
It sure can. It can be completed, baked or unbaked and refrigerated several days ahead. If baked it should be freshened and warmed before serving or it can be assembled the day before and baked when needed.
Make Ahead and Storage
- Both the omelets and spinach filling can be made the day before, covered and refrigerated until needed.
- The Tourte Milanese can be made ahead in its entirety and refrigerated up to two days before baking. Make sure the spinach filling and red peppers are drained and dry so they don't add water to the filling.
- The tourte can also be baked and refrigerated up to two days ahead. To serve, bring it to room temperature and wrap it completely in foil. Leave a vent hole at the top. Place on a baking sheet to freshen and warm in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
- When making the crust, make sure the butter is refrigerator cold so the dough doesn't become pasty.
- The dough should be able to be rolled immediately, but if it is soft, refrigerate briefly. If left in the cold too long, it will be more difficult to roll due to the butter.
- If during any time while rolling the dough, it softens, refrigerate or pop it into the freezer briefly.
- All the component fillings should be room temperature or cold when assembling.
Other savory dishes to enjoy
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- 9x3 cheesecake or springform pan
- This is for 2 omelets. Use half the ingredients for each. These can be made the day ahead and refrigerated.
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 10 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons water
- Butter and/or oil for pan
- This can be made the day ahead and refrigerated.
- 24 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and the water squeezed out
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup cream
- 3 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour (420 grams)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, refrigerated (175 grams)
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk
- ¼ cup cream
Assembly of the Tourte Milanese
- Pasta Frolla Crust
- Two Omelets
- Spinach Filling
- ½ pound Swiss Cheese, thinly sliced (225 grams)
- ½ pound smoked ham, thinly sliced (225 grams)
- 1 pound jar or can of fire roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry (454 grams)
- 1 Egg beaten for egg wash
- Chop the chives and parsley separately. Set aside. Have the oregano, salt and pepper in close proximity to the saute pan.
- For each of 2 omelets, whisk 5 eggs until completely blended. Add 2 tablespoons water.
- Add a bit of butter or oil to a 9” saute pan and heat until melted and hot.
- Pour in the eggs. Immediately, sprinkle with half of the chives, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper or as much or little as you care.
- Cook until the bottom is just set. It will still have a lot of uncooked eggs on top. Lift the omelet in several places, tilt the pan and let the liquid run underneath.
- Cut the omelet in half and flip it over. Cook briefly just until set.
- Remove it to a sheet pan to cool. Cover and cool completely before using.
- Repeat with the second half of the ingredients.
- Heat the oil, butter and garlic in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
- Add the spinach and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and cream. Mix quickly so the spinach absorbs the cream.
- Remove the spinach filling, correct the seasonings, cover and cool completely. Set aside.
- This may be made the day ahead and refrigerated
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a processor. Process to mix.
- Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the processor. Process until it looks mealy and no butter is visible.
- Whisk the eggs, yolk and cream together and pour over the ingredients in the processor.Process until a ball forms. Redistribute the dough, making sure the top of the dough is on the bottom. Process again.
- Spray a 9x3” cheesecake or springform pan very well with a non-stick baking release. Set aside.
- Divide the dough in half.
- Divide one piece in half again and roll each piece into a 9” circle. Place one in the bottom of the prepares pan. Cover the second circe with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the sides.
- For the sides, divide the second piece of dough into 3 equal pieces. If you don’t have a scale, roll the dough into a log and divide into 3.
- Roll each piece into a 11" x 4" inch rectangle.
- Place each one, as it is rolled, against the side of the pan with a 1" overhang. The spray should keep it in place. Join the seams well by pressing them firmly together.
- Seal the bottom edges together by pressing firmly.
- Egg wash - 1 egg beaten well with 1 teaspoon of water
- Place one omelet in the bottom of the pan.
- Spread half of the spinach filling over the omelet.
- Cover the omelet with half of the cheese.
- Then half the ham goes on.
- All of the red peppers go over the ham. Make sure they are very dry.
- Now reverse the order so ham, cheese, spinach filling and the omelet finish the filing. Press down so the fillings are flat.
- Fold the over hanging dough over the omelet. Brush it with the egg wash. Remove the second circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it warm just slightly. Place it on top of the omelet making sure it is firmly against the edge of the pan.
- Cut a vent in the center of the dough and carefully with a very sharp knife. Mark the tourte into 10 to 12 pieces. Brush with egg wash. Reserve the remainder of the egg wash.
- Refrigerate for an hour or overnight before baking.
- Brush with egg wash again before baking.
Baking the Tourte
- If baking immediately, bake at 350°F for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until medium brown. Cool to warm or room temperature to serve.
- Cool completely and refrigerate up to 2 days if making ahead.
- If baked ahead, bring it to room temperature. Wrap in foil, leaving a vent hole at the top. place it on a baking sheet and warm it in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes to warm and freshen.
- Serve cold, room temperature or slightly warmed but not hot.