Torta Pasqualina is a traditional recipe from Liguria and it is served at Easter. It is a tasty and filling pie which when sliced looks really interesting; the green colour of the vegetables, the white of the ricotta cheese and the whole eggs make a great contrast of colours.
The pastry is made of flour, water and olive oil and it is rolled in several sheets. The tart is composed of different layers of pastry each brushed with olive oil which gives it a crumbly and crunchy texture, in this way the layers of pastry won't stick with each other. Tradition dictates that it should be composed of 33 sheets of pasta like the years of Jesus. Of course that would be a nightmare to prepare and I don't feel skilled enough to make something so complicated.
This is why the recipe I am proposing is made of only 4 layers (enough for me!). Some people use puff pastry instead of making their own pastry but that would be a different type of pie altogether.
This tart is so filling and I only served it with a little bit of salad but really you don't even need to add any extra veggies, as it is already packed with greenies. To ensure you don't get a soggy pastry make sure that after cooking the spinach (or chard) you ring them well and you drain the ricotta from its liquid too.
If you fancy the look of this tart but you don't have much time on your hands, you can of course cut corners and use shop-bought shortcrust pastry and do only two layers instead of four.
I wish you all a relaxing Easter break.
- Prep Time : 60 minutes
- Cook Time : 60 minutes
- Yield : 6
- For the pastry:
- plain flour - 500 g - 4 cups + 2 tbsp
- extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp
- water - approximately 300 ml - 10 fl oz
- salt - 1/2 tsp
- For the filling:
- fresh spinach or chard - 500 g - 2 + 1/4 cup
- ricotta cheese - 350 g - 1 + 1/2 cup
- eggs - 9
- grated parmesan cheese - 6 tbsp
- onion - 1 small
- marjoram - 2 sprigs
- nutmeg - the tip of a teaspoon
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
Make the pastry by mixing the flour with the water, the oil and the salt. Add the water a little at the time; feel the consistency of the dough. It needs to be smooth and elastic and not sticky so you might need to add more or less water. Knead for 5 minutes and form a smooth ball then divide it into 4 pieces: 2 larger ones to cover the bottom of the baking tin and 2 slightly smaller. Let them rest covered with a cloth for 30 minutes.
In the meantime make the filling. Wash and chop the spinach (or chard). Chop the onion finely and stir fry it in a pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the spinach and cook them until soft. When they are cooked put them in a colander and let them drain to remove any excess water.
Let them cool down then add the chopped marjoram leaves, salt and pepper and 1 egg. Mix well.
Put the ricotta in a bowl, add 2 eggs, 4 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Mix well.
Sprinkle some flour on your worktop and with rolling pin roll one of the largest pieces of dough slightly larger than the circumference of your spring form pan (my baking tin had a diameter of 23cm or 9 inch). Grease well your spring form tin (you could also line the bottom with non-stick parchment paper for easier removal of the tart after cooking) and place the sheet of dough on it pressing well against the edges.
Brush the dough with olive oil. Roll a second piece of smaller dough and place it on top of the first dough. Put the spinach on top, level well then place the ricotta mixture on top and level it well again.
With the back of the spoon make 6 evenly spaced holes in the ricotta. Now crack in each one of them an egg. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated parmesan on top. Roll a second larger piece of dough and place it on top of the eggs, brush it with oil and then place the last piece of smaller rolled dough on top. Press the pastries together with your fingers and roll them into the inside. Press the edges with a fork. Brush the top with olive oil and bake in the mid-lower rack of the oven at 180C or 350F for about 50 minutes until the pastry will look slightly golden.