Torta Pasqualina

 
Time for another round of Cucina Conversations! Since this month's theme is Easter we're posting a little earlier than usual, just in case you're looking for inspiration for your menu this April 16th.
With no further ado, here are the other Easter-themed recipes prepared by my fellow Cucina Conversations bloggers:

Daniela of La Dani Gourmet is sharing her recipe 
Torta coi Bischeri, or a pie with a chocolate and rice filling;

Carmen at The Heirloom Chronicles has baked up one of my very, very favorite snacks in the whole wide world -- taralli all'uovo;


Flavia from Flavia's Flavors is sharing a recipe for focaccia veneta;


Last but not least Marialuisa over at Marmellata di Cipolle has made 
pitta chijna, a Calabrian specialty for Easter. 

Lisa aka Italian Kiwi has a recipe to still be announced -- check back for that soon!;

My contribution for this month is the traditional Easter Torta Pasqualina, a savory pie that comes from Genova. I'm no stranger to savory, veggie-and-cheese pies (like this Butternut Squash Galette, this Three-Cheese Zucchini Tart, and this Cherry Tomato Crostatafinding them splendidly versatile, as at home showcasing seasonal ingredients as they are accommodating whatever you happen to have in your fridge. And let's be honest -- a vegetable is always, always improved by the addition of cheese (the more, the better) and a pastry crust, right?! That's what I thought.

In the course of my Torta Pasqualina research I came across recipes using artichokes, chard, or even beets, recipes for torte made with homemade pastry crusts, others with store-bought crusts for the cook short on time, plus a particularly fancy, tiered torta with 3 layers and different pie crusts dividing them. In the end, I decided to keep things simple and stick with the more traditional version of the Torta Pasqualina, or rather: a fluffy ricotta filling, mixed with lots of spinach for color and an arguable dose of nutrition (this is basically health food, people) generous helpings of salty rich Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, and, best and prettiest of all, four whole eggs baked right into the top of the pie, bright golden yellow like a circle of miniature suns. This dish is as beautiful as it is tasty, and would be perfect for an Easter brunch, as a starter, or as a hearty alternative for vegetarians who won't be eating the usual Easter lamb or ham. Bonus: This makes great leftovers (if it lasts) and beyond Easter, makes fantastic, portable picnic food (especially if you are celebrating Pasquetta on Monday). I loved this and I think you will too. 

A couple of general: This recipe is fairly flexible. Substitute chard for the spinach, or any kind of green you want. You can use just Pecorino or just Parmesan if you don't want to buy two types of cheese. If you're short on time, feel free to use a pre-made pie crust instead of the homemade crust below. I found that a bit of steam got caught under the pie crust as it was baking, which was fine, but left an air pocket under the crust that probably could have been avoided by cutting a slit or two in the top of the pie crust (I'll do this next time!) 

Notes on the crust: The crust here is on the simpler, sturdier side to support all the filling and let it shine, but I've also made this with Smitten Kitchen's flakier, buttery pastry dough (find the recipe here) with great results (this was the preferred crust from most of my taste testers and my preferred crust too). The choice is up to you -- I've provided both recipes below. Note that you'll have some leftover pie crust recipe using either recipe -- use the scraps to cut out decorations for the top of the pie if you're feeling creative. 

TORTA PASQUALINA

Ingredients for the crust:
3 1/2 cups (450 grams) of flour
A very generous pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups (255ml) water
2 1/2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

or

Smitten Kitchen's crust recipe, using 2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.

Ingredients for the filling:
1 pound (500 grams) spinach, stems removed, rinsed
1 cup (250 grams) of ricotta cheese
A scant 1/2 cup (35 grams) of Pecorino cheese
A scant 1/2 cup (45 grams) of Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt 
6 eggs
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Start with your crust! Dissolve the salt in the water. Put the flour in a large bowl and add the water-salt mixture and the olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until a dough starts to form.
 
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic. Divide it in to two pieces -- one should weigh about 300 grams, the other about 180 grams if you have a kitchen scale and want to be precise. The bigger piece will be the bottom crust, the smaller our top crust. Pat each piece of dough in to a ball and let it sit for about an hour, covered.
 
Make your filling! Put a pot of water on to boil. Salt the water when its boiling, then add the spinach and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Drain the spinach, let it cool, and then dry it very well -- usually my (very clean) hands to squeeze it dry. Chop the spinach roughly.
 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the ricotta, one of the six eggs, the Parmesan, the Pecorino, the salt, and lots of pepper. Add the spinach and mix very well. 
 
 
 
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with some butter. Roll out each piece of dough on a clean, lightly floured work surface into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Place your prepared pan on the smaller piece of rolled-out dough and using a sharp knife, cut around the pan, to get a piece of dough of the same size. 
 
Roll the larger piece of dough around the rolling pin (best if it has a little flour on it) to more easily transport the dough to the springform pan (or just pick it up and lift it if you prefer -- I happen to like the rolling pin trick). Unroll the dough over the bottom of the greased pan, being sure that it goes all the way up and over the sides of the pan. 
 
Fill the crust with the ricotta and spinach mixture. Using a spoon, make 5 or so indentations in the filling. Carefully crack each of the remaining eggs into each indentation. 
 
Back to the smaller piece of dough we cut out using the springform pan! Place it over the filling, being careful not to move around the eggs too much. Close the edges of the larger piece of dough over the smaller piece. Trim the extra dough off of the sides. Lightly beat the sixth and final egg, and brush it over the top of the crust to get a nice shiny finish.
 
 
Bake the Torta Pasqualina for about an 50 minutes to an hour, or until the crust is a light golden brown and the filling seems set. 

Let the Torta cool completely before cutting and serving. Serves 6-8.













































4 comments :

  1. A beautiful pie Francesca and love the pastry! I will be making this for our Pasquetta. Buona Pasqua 🐣👌

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  2. I love the look of the pie, Francesca! I'm impressed that you managed tocut it in exactly the right place to show the egg off so nicely! :)

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  3. Thank you Carmen and Lisa!!! Ahaha Lisa I had to do a bit of guesswork when it came to cutting but thankfully it worked out well!

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  4. Placing the pastry on top of the eggs isn't easy, I know from experience. Your eggs are intact and your pie looks wonderful. Brava! Hope you had a lovely Easter!

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