Torta pasqualina is a beloved Easter pie in Italy. Originally from Liguria, the dish is now popular all over the peninsula.
The pie is made with puff pastry and a spring green, such as artichoke, chard leaves, or in this case, spinach. In the past, the recipe had stronger religious tones: it was made with 33 sheets of very thin pastry, one for every year of Jesus’ life to celebrate Easter.
The most important aspect of torta pasqualina is the eggs baked inside. When you cut the pie, you should see the egg sliced through the middle in what’s a beautiful and festive effect. To help with this, score a cross in the top of the pie, so that you can see where to cut.
Torta Pasqualina (Easter Pie)
Recipe courtesy of Great Italian Chefs*
1 3/4 pounds spinach
1 1/8 pounds ricotta
2 sheets puff pastry
Salt & black pepper, to taste
Place the spinach directly into a large saucepan with a lid. Turn the heat on low, cover them, and leave to wilt for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the spinach to cool completely.
When the spinach is cool, put it into a blender for a few seconds to chop it into small pieces. Alternatively, you could do this with a knife. Then, in a bowl, mix the spinach with the ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix in 1 egg.
Butter a deep 8-inch cake tin lined with one of the sheets of puff pastry. Pour in the spinach mixture, and transfer the tin to the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.
Carefully make four large holes in the spinach mixture with a spoon, big enough to take an entire egg each. Then, break 1 egg into each of the holes.
Cut an 7-inch circle out of the second sheet of puff pastry. Place it carefully over the top of the mixture, and use a sharp knife to score a cross in the pastry over the eggs.
Beat the remaining egg with a fork and paint the disc of pastry with it. Gently fold down the edges of the pastry lining to join up with the disk and seal the pie. Paint the top of the pie with the beaten egg and put the whole thing in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While the pie is in the fridge, preheat the oven to 356°F.
Remove the pie from the fridge and score a pattern on the top of the pie with a sharp knife. Make a small hole in the center of the pie with the knife, paint one final layer of beaten egg on the top, and bake it in the oven for 1 hour.
Allow the pie to cool completely, and then cut into eight portions using the cross on the top as a guide.