Torta Pasqualina ~ Another traditional tart recipe, this one for Torta Pasqualina, or Italian Easter Pie, a traditional Ligurian recipe made each year to celebrate the Easter holiday. It is said that this pie should have 33 three layers in the crust to celebrate the number of years that Jesus spent on Earth, but generally most recipes contain fewer layers. Although it is time consuming to roll out each layer thin enough, you can also substitute puff pastry, which is readily available at most grocery stores. I usually make the traditional dough described below for my Torta Pasqualina but this Easter I was running short on time and not feeling well so I substituted puff pastry and loved how it turned out and think I’ll make my Easter pie with puff pastry from now on!
To end up with a crisp crust on your pie, it is important to squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the spinach. I also drain my ricotta in a sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes to an hour before I use it to remove any excess liquid as well. By using the puff pastry, this tasty pie is so easy that it should be enjoyed much more often throughout the year and not reserved solely for Easter celebrations!
Deborah Mele 2012
A savory ricotta and spinach pie from Liguria.
- 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Plus Additional For Brushing Layers)
- Dash Of Salt
- 2 Sheets Puff Pastry
- 1 1/2 Pound Spinach or Swiss Chard
- 3 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs
- 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 Pound Full Fat Ricotta Cheese, Drained
- 6 Eggs
- 1 Cup Cubed Ham
Egg Wash For Puff Pastry:
- 1 Large Egg
- If making the olive oil dough, put the flour on a clean surface into a mound, then add the salt, oil and enough water to make a smooth dough, about 1 cup.
- Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth, and divide the dough into 12 equal portions, and let rest for 1 hour, covered with a damp towel.
- If using puff pastry, allow the pastry to come to room temperature.
- While the dough is resting, begin to prepare the filling by cooking the spinach in a large pot.
- Drain, squeeze until very dry and chop, then season with salt and pepper.
- Add the crumbs to the spinach in a bowl, and add the ricotta, parmesan and cubed ham, and mix well.
- Beat two of the eggs, and fold into the spinach ricotta mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- For the olive oil dough, roll out each ball dough thinly on a lightly floured surface, into an 11-12 inch circle.
- Brush a 10 inch baking dish, or spring-form pan with a little oil, and drape the first sheet of pastry over the pan, allowing an equal amount to overlap the rim.
- Brush pastry with oil, and continue to roll out another 5 layers, brushing oil between each layer.
- If using puff pastry, roll out the two layers until fairly thin, making them large enough to cover a 10 inch spring-form pan with a good overhang to cover the filling.
- Lay one layer over the other to cover the bottom and sids of the pan.
- Put the filling into the pan, smoothing it evenly.
- Make four hollows evenly spaced around the filling, and carefully crack the eggs into the hollows.
- For the olive oil dough version, roll out the remaining balls of dough, brushing with oil between each.
- Roll over the pie, and press the edges inward.
- Brush the top with oil, and prick the top carefully, being careful not top pierce the eggs.
- For the puff pastry version, fold the overhanging edges of pastry over the top of the pie, folding to fit.
- Beat the egg with a teaspoon of water and brush over the top of the puff pastry.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown.
- Serve warm, or at room temperature.