Shaped by its strong Catholic heritage, the Italian calendar is filled with religious festivities and saint days – but because we’re talking about Italy, each day also has its own delicious dish, bread or sweet treat.
Torta Pasqualina, or Easter Pie, is one such dish. Traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday, Torta Pasqualina is a savoury pie that’s filled with a mixture of greens, cheese and eggs. It’s typically served cold, so it’s a great option for a spring picnic, or as a vegetarian main course throughout the year.
Torta Pasqualina originated in the 16th century, in Genoa, the capital of the north-western region of Liguria – which is where our founder, Alessandro, grew up. Torta Pasqualina’s popularity spread over the years, and now it appears all over Il Bel Paese as an Easter centrepiece.
This Torta Pasqualina recipe uses puff pastry, but the original incarnation actually involved 33 sheets of thin, filo-like pastry – one for every year of Christ’s life. Within the pastry, our Torta Pasqualina is a riot of spring colour; wilted (but nonetheless vibrant) spinach is mixed with fresh herbs and creamy ricotta cheese, before whole eggs are cracked into deep wells in the filling and baked for a suitably seasonal flourish.
Our Torta Pasqualina recipe
There’s a few steps involved in making a Torta Pasqualina, so we’ve simplified things by using a block of shop-bought puff pastry in our recipe.
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus 30 minutes resting)
Cook time: 60 minutes
Calories per serving: 503 kcal
- 500g block all butter puff pastry
- 600g spinach
- Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 300g ricotta, drained
- 6 eggs
- 50g Parmigiano Reggiano (or vegetarian alternative)
- Unsalted butter, to butter your tin
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Wash your spinach under cold running water, then put it into a pan with a lid. Don’t worry about any residual water, it’ll help the spinach wilt.
- Put the pan on a low heat with the lid on and cook for 10 minutes, or until the spinach has completely wilted.
- Put the wilted spinach in a colander to drain and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
- Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze as much of the water out as you can, then roughly chop.
- In a bowl, mix your chopped spinach with the parsley, ricotta, parmesan and one beaten egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cut a third off the pastry and put to the side. On a floured work surface roll out the remaining pastry into a 30cm circle.
- Butter a deep 23cm round tin (a loose-bottomed cake tin is ideal), then line it with the sheet of pastry, pressing it into the corners as you go.
- Fill the tin with the spinach mixture, then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes (this'll make the next step easier). Preheat your oven to 190°C/gas mark 4/375°F.
- Get your tin out of the fridge – the filling should’ve firmed up a little. Take a spoon and make four deep holes in the filling, each big enough to hold an egg. Carefully crack an egg into each hole.
- Roll the remaining piece of pastry into a circle the same size as the tin, then lay it carefully over your filling. Wet your fingers, then fold over and seal the edges of the pasty lid and base.
- Beat your remaining egg, then brush your pie lid with the egg wash and prick a small hole in the centre. Bake your Torta Pasqualina in the oven for 1 hour.
- Take your Torta Pasqualina out of the oven and leave it to cool before removing it from the tin.
Once your pie has cooled, serve it cut into thick slices that show off the eggs baked inside. Buona Pasqua!
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