Torta Pasqualina

Pasqua con i tuoi, Pasquetta con chi vuoi.

Torta Pasqualina

Easter, the saying goes, should be spent with family.  Traditions abound at Easter time in Italy, and of course many of them revolve around food.  Easter breakfast at Stefano’s house is always pizza dolce with hard-boiled eggs and salami.  Abbacchio, young suckling lamb, is a Roman classic that is never missing at Easter lunch, and someone will likely bring a homemade Neopolitan Easter tart, pastiera.  The meal ends with a slice of dove-shaped Easter cake called a Colomba  and a few pieces of Uova di Pasqua, a giant chocolate Easter egg.

Torta Pasqualina

Easter Monday though, according to the saying, can be spent with friends.  It is a public holiday, and tradition calls for a picnic in the countryside.  In many parts of Italy, torte salate are common picnic fare, and torta pasqualina has become a quintessential Easter time shepherd’s pie.  Originally from Liguria, torta pasqualina is now made all over Italy.  It is characterized by its multiple layers of crust, swiss chard or spinach and ricotta filling, and by the eggs which are cooked whole inside the pie.  Recipes vary, and some traditionalists mourn the loss of authenticity that the dish’s popularity has brought.

It was our first time trying torta pasqualina, and it will definitely make a return to our Easter Monday picnic basket.

Torta Pasqualina

Ingredients
For the crust
600 grams (4 and 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
350 ml (1 and 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
35 g (1/4 cup) olive oil

For the filling
1 kilo (2 and 1/4 pounds) fresh spinach or swiss chard
500 grams (one 16 oz. tub will suffice) whole milk ricotta
150 grams (2 cups) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
12 eggs
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg
Olive oil

You will bake your tart in a 25-30 cm, or 10-12 in. tart pan, such as this one.

Directions
Prepare the dough
Measure the flour and place it into a bowl.  Dissolve the salt into the water, and add it to the flour.  Add the olive oil, and stir with a wooden spoon until it the dough unites into a rough ball.  Turn the dough onto a smooth, lightly floured surface and knead it for 5-7 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Cut the dough into four pieces – two of them approximately 300 grams (10 and 1/2 oz.) each, and two of them approximately 180 grams (6 and 1/2 oz) each.  Cover them with a cloth and set aside.

Torta Pasqualina

Prepare the filling
Wilt the spinach or swiss chard in a few tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Only fill the pan with as much spinach or swiss chard as fits.  When that is wilted, remove to a separate bowl and place more fresh spinach or swiss chard to the pan, adding more olive oil if needed.  Set the wilted greens aside to cool.

Torta Pasqualina

In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/3 of the Pecorino Romano, 3 eggs, and a generous pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and another of nutmeg. Mix well and set aside.

Return to the greens, which by now should be cool.  Place them in a strainer and press all of the liquid out of them.  Turn them over onto a cutting board, and chop them coarsely.  Return them to the bowl and add half of the remaining Pecorino Romano, 2 eggs, salt and pepper to taste.   Set aside.

Torta Pasqualina

Preheat the oven to 180° C, 350° F, and return to your dough.  Take one of the two larger pieces, and roll it out so that it is quite thin and larger than the tart pan.  Brush the bottom and sides of the tart dish with olive oil, and place the dough in it, pressing it tight to the edges of the tart dish.  You want the dough to wrap over the sides of the dish.  Brush this layer of dough with olive oil.  Roll out the second large piece of dough, and place it on top of the first piece.

Torta PasqualinaTorta Pasqualina

Return to the spinach or swiss chard.  If it has released more liquid, drain that off and then spoon the spinach into the tart dish, pressing it down and toward the edges.  Add the ricotta mixture on top of the greens.

Torta PasqualinaTorta Pasqualina

Using a soup spoon, make 7 deep indentations into the filling – one in the center, and three on each side to form a circle.   Crack each of the remaining 7 eggs, one at a time, separating the whites from the yolk.  Preserve the whites, and carefully drop each yolk into an indentation in the filling.  Carefully spoon some of the egg whites on top of the ricotta mixture.

Roll out each of the remaining small pieces of dough and place them one after another on top of the tart, brushing the first piece of dough with olive oil before adding the second.  Carefully lift the excess bottom dough up around the top of the tart, pressing the bottom and top pieces together.  Brush the remaining egg yolk over the dough, with particular attention to sealing the edges.

Torta Pasqualina

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.  Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into it.

Torta PasqualinaTorta Pasqualina

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This entry was posted in Holiday Recipes, Pizza and Bread, Recipes and Wine Pairings, Vegetables and Salads and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Torta Pasqualina

  1. PolaM says:

    Last year on Italian blogs I have seen people blowing between the two dough layers to separate them out before the cooking and make the crust more flaky…. Kind of want to try that this year!

  2. Adri says:

    What a beautiful torta! It is beautifully executed, and I love you step by step photo essay. As always, a stellar job – bravissimi! I so enjoy Easter food. I think that is because it brings back so many wonderful childhood memories, such happy times. It sounds like your family has some grand traditions. Buona Pasqua!

  3. Simona says:

    What a nice, organized working space! I hope the weather in your area will be good enough to allow you to go for a picnic on Monday. Happy Easter!

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  9. Joyce Poole says:

    Hello! I have been trying for years to find recipe that my Italian grandmother called Fiadone. I’m unsure of the spelling. It is very similar to Torta Pasqualina, but it has only has ricotta inside, no spinach, and is made in a small loaf, of sorts, similar to biscotti. She was from Montesilvano. Might you be familiar with Fiadone?

    • duespaghetti says:

      Hi, Joyce. We’re not familiar with fiadone. It sounds like it is a regional recipe, from the Abruzzo region of Italy. A quick Google search in Italian pulls up a whole variety of recipes. The types of cheese used seem to vary, as does the shape. We’ll ask a friend from Abruzzo to see what he knows. In the meanwhile, did your grandmother’s look anything like this: http://www.cucina.figoo.it/ricette/ricette-regionali/fiadone-pasquale-abruzzese.php ?

      • Joyce Poole says:

        Thank you! My grandmother’s didn’t look like the link that you posted, but close. The ricotta filling looked more like the ricotta filling in the picture above…less the spinach and egg. The ricotta was mixed with egg, as a binder, and (I think) some breadcrumbs. The dough looked similar, in that it was an egg dough. But the shape is off. Grandma’s was baked in small “loafs” of sorts, that were rounded on the top, flat on the bottom. As if you baked an oversized biscotti, then sliced it into the biscotti-shaped pieces when cooled. Thank you so much for trying to help! Gram called it Fee-A-Don, which we imagine was spelled Fiadone.

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