A traditional Italian Pie to celebrate Spring
Easter, or Pasqua as the holiday is called in Italian, is just around the corner for many people around the world. Of course, as usual for the long weekend, the weather folks are predicting rain. Let’s hope they’re wrong for everyone who is heading off for a bit of a holiday! This year I decided to try my hand at making Torta Pasqualina. This is a traditional pie, originally made in Liguria (the part of Italy on the coast in the west of the country) for Easter, but now is enjoyed all over Italy. The main ingredients are ricotta, spinach and, especially to celebrate Easter, eggs. Some people mix the ricotta and spinach all together, and some make it in separate layers. I decided to do the separate thing as I thought it looked pretty, but in the end, the taste is the same, so you can do what you want.
Why you shouldn’t make the traditional pastry
I thought I’d go all out and make the pastry too since it’s the first time I’ve tried it. After doing some reading, I decided NOT to make the real version as you are mean to roll out 33 incredibly thin layers of dough for the crust. This is apparently meant to symbolize the number of years that Jesus was said to have lived. I chose to go for 4 layers, which is the average life-span of a guinea pig. This is maybe not quite as symbolic, but I’m really OK with that. There’s nothing not to like about round fluffy balls that squeak when you pick them up It’s true that when I say four layers, I actually did two on the bottom and two on the top crust, so I’m not sure what that means at all, except for the fact that I’m lazy. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the dough, go ahead and buy some good puff pastry and use one layer of it for the base and the crust on top.
The making of the pie in photos
I made this handy collage below to show you each step of the pie-making process. The first photo shows the pie dish with two of the thin layers of dough spread over it. Once you’ve spread one layer in the dish, you need to brush it with olive oil. this helps the sheets separate a little when the torta pasqualina is cooking and become flaky.
You can check out more delicious traditional Easter recipes from the Cucina Conversations group this month:
Flavia from Flavia’s Flavors made a special Easter bread called Crescia di Formaggio
Carmen from The Heirloom Chronicles both fried and oven-baked Cassateddi from Sicily
Daniela from La Dani Gourmet made a Torta di Riso Massese
Rosemarie from Turin Mamma made sweet Salame del Papa
Francesca from Pancakes And Biscotti baked a Chocolate and Ricotta Pie
Marialuisa from Marmellata e Cipolli baked Lamb chops alla Scottadito
Happy Easter everyone!
By Lisa Watson
Torta Pasqualina: Italian Easter pie
- For The Dough:
- 500 g All-purpose flour 4 cups
- 25 ml Olive Oil 1 Tbsp
- 1 pinch Salt
For The Fillings:
- 1 kg Fresh Spinach 2.2 lb
- 8 Eggs
- 60 g Grated Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup
- 500 g Fresh Ricotta 2 cups
- 1 tsp Salt
For The Dough:
- Knead all the ingredients for the dough together until the dough feels soft and elastic in your hands.
- Cut the dough into 4 balls. You should have approximately 800 g of dough. Make 2 balls of 250g and 2 of 150g.
- Leave the balls on a floured surface, under a humid tea-towel to rest for at least an hour.
For The Fillings:
1. Spinach Filling:
- Steam the spinach until it is wilted, then leave to cool.
- Squeeze the spinach to remove any water, then chop the spinach finely. Put it in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add 30g (2 – 3 Tbsp) grated Parmesan Cheese, 1 egg, and a sprinkle of salt.
- Mix well, and set aside until needed.
2. Ricotta Filling:
- Put the ricotta in a medium-sized bowl. Use a whisk to break it up.
- Add 2 eggs, 3/4 tsp salt, and 30g ( 2-3 Tbsp) of Parmesan Cheese.
- Whisk to mix everything then set aside until needed.
To Make The Pie:
- Brush a 25 cm pie-dish with olive oil.
- Heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
- Roll out one of the two heavier balls of dough on a floured surface until it is so thin that you can almost see through it.
- Drape it over the pie-dish and push it down gently with your fingers until it lies flat against the dish. Brush the dough with oil.
- Roll out the second heavier ball of dough in the same way, then drape it over the pie dish and gently push it down until it lies flat against the first round of dough.
- Add the spinach mixture and flatten it gently with a spoon.
- Add the ricotta mixture and smooth it out over the top of the spinach.
- Wet a tablespoon and make five indentations in the ricotta and regular intervals.
- Break the last five eggs, one at a time, and gently drop them into the indentations.
- Sprinkle grated Parmesan Cheese over the top of the eggs.
- Roll out the third ball of dough thinly and drape it over the top of the pie. Brush it with olive oil.
- Roll out the last ball of dough and drape it over the top of the third circle of dough.
- Cut the excess dough off from around the edges of the pie dish.
- Carefully roll the edges up and press them on to the surface of the pie.
- Brush the top with oil, and bake for 50 – 55 minutes.