International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina (Italian Easter spinach, ricotta and egg torte)

(Italian Easter spinach, ricotta and egg torte)

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Originally from the northwest coastal region of Liguria, this savory torte (torta salata) has become part of many Easter (pasqua) meal spreads throughout Italy.

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Pasta per Torte Salate (torta dough) -- 1 recipe
  • Olive oil -- 4 tablespoons
  • Spinach -- 2 pounds
  • Ricotta cheese -- 1 pound
  • Parmigano Reggiano cheese, grated -- 3/4 cup
  • Scallions, finely chopped -- 3 or 4
  • Fresh marjoram, finely chopped -- 1 tablespoon
  • Nutmeg, ground -- a big pinch
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Eggs -- 7

Method

  1. Prepare the torta dough according to recipe directions. Cut the dough into 8 portions and roll each portion into a ball. Set aside to rest, covered with plastic wrap, while you prepare the filling.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium flame. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and saute until the spinach is wilted and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool, then squeeze out any excess liquid from the spinach. Finely chop the spinach.
  3. Add the spinach and ricotta to a large bowl, along with the Parmigiano cheese, scallions, marjoram, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well and adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan. Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface, roll each of the balls of dough into thin, 14-inch rounds. Press one of the rounds into the bottom of the pan, with the edges going up and over the side of the pan. Use a pastry brush to brush the dough lightly with some of the remaining olive oil. Repeat with three more rounds of dough, brushing each additional layer with olive oil.
  5. Add the filling to the pan and spread it evenly over the pastry layers. Make 6 small indentations in the filling with the back of a spoon, and crack an egg into each of the indentations. Sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper.
  6. Lay the remaining pastry rounds onto the top of the torta filling, brushing each layer lightly with olive oil. Trim the pastry edges to fit the pan, and crimp together the top and bottom layers to seal. Cut two or three slits in the top of the pastry with a small knife to allow steam to escape.
  7. Beat the remaining egg with a little bit of water and brush the top of the torta with the egg wash. Place the torta in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the torta is cooked through and the crust is lightly browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Torta Pasqualina Variations

  • Torta crust: Instead of making your own crust, try using two sheets of puff pastry. Roll each out to fit and trim to size. You can also try sheets of phyllo pastry. Follow package directions, using 7 or 8 sheets for both top and bottom crusts. Even prepared pie crust will work. Roll it out a bit first, then two layers for both bottom and top.
  • Torta filling: Use frozen spinach if you like. You just need to thaw it and squeeze out the excess water. No need to saute. Or substitute Swiss chard for some or all of the spinach. Try adding 1 cup of chopped ham or 1 cup of thinly sliced cooked artichoke hearts. Two beaten eggs can be stirred into the filling if you like.

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