Torta Pasqualina is a savory Italian (Liguria) pie traditionally served during Easter. It is saved for such a special occasion due to the work involved in rolling out the pastry layers and assembling the pie. A pastry dough is rolled into thin layers, stacked, and filled with a chard and ricotta mixture. In addition to the eggs in the filling, 6 more eggs are cracked into the pie before pouring in the remaining chard ricotta and topping with more sheets of the pastry. The number of pastry layers vary based on the recipe. Original recipes call for as many as 33 layers of pastry to signify the number of years Jesus spent on Earth. The recipe I used is a bit less time-consuming and calls for a puff pastry divided into four pieces, rolled thinly, and brushed with olive oil to help the flakiness.
This was a huge hit for Chad and Evan. I cut out the slice featured above for them to share, but Evan ate the entire thing and didn’t even leave Chad a crumb.
My only pie pan is an 8 inch and I didn’t think that would fit everything, so I used a 10 inch springform pan. It worked well, but I couldn’t really crimp the edges. I sealed the best I could and stuffed the overhang inside the edges. I actually liked the result, a bit rustic looking.
I received only 10 ounces of Swiss Chard in my CSA box, so I substituted spinach for the remaining 11 ounces. In Genoa, artichokes are also often added.
Torta Pasqualina (Italian Easter Pie)
Adapted from The Silver Spoon New Edition
1 tablespoon butter
21 ounces Swiss chard (or spinach)
10 eggs, divided
1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
scant 1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
14 ounces puff pastry dough
all purpose flour for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a large pie pan or 10 inch springform pan with the butter.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove the tough stems from the chard and add to the boiling water. Cook until tender, 3-5 minutes or shorter for spinach. Rinse in cold water, drain, and chop.
In a medium bowl, beat together 4 of the eggs. Push the ricotta through a strainer into the bowl, being sure to scrap the underside of the strainer for excess ricotta. Mix in the Parmesan, bread crumbs, heavy cream, salt, pepper, chopped chard, and marjoram.
On a lightly floured surface, cut the puff pastry into 4 equal pieces. Roll one piece until thin and large enough to cover pan with excess hanging over the edges. Brush with olive oil and roll out another piece. Place over first piece at an angle so the overhanging edges are not together. Cover the other two pieces with a damp cloth.
Pour half of the chard ricotta mixture into the prepared pan over the puff pastry. Use a spoon to make 6 indentations in the chard mixture in a circle. Break an egg into each indentation. Season with salt and pepper and cover with remaining chard ricotta mixture. Use a wet spatula to smooth the top.
Roll another piece of puff pastry until thin and place over chard mixture. Brush with oil. Roll the remaining piece of puff pastry and place on top. Carefully crimp all of the edges the seal. Prick the surface a few times with a fork.
Bake in preheated oven until heated through and top is golden brown. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve hot or cold.