Italian Vegetarian Easter Pie or Torta Pasqualina has very ancient origins (its existence is attested in the fifteenth century). It’s a famous Ligurian specialty, in particular of the Genoa area. Italian Easter Pie is called Torta Pasqualina because people used (and use) to prepare and eat it especially at Easter (It: Pasqua).
Vegetarian Easter Pie is also made with artichokes or spinach, but the traditional Italian Pasqualina Pie is only made with chards. During Easter in fact artichokes were not cheap, while the humble country chards were in full bud and everyone could afford to purchase large quantities.
Moreover, as often happens in the typical dishes of ancient origins, Easter Pie ingredients, such as eggs and cheese, were fine foods that were eaten only on special occasions.
In Italy every family has its own Torta Pasqualina recipe: there are those who use artichokes or spinach instead of swiss chards, who adds a little bit of bacon to the mixture, those who prefer crescenza cheese instead of ricotta.
This is the original Italian Vegetarian Easter Pie recipe; simple, easy, made with few fresh ingredients.
Basically Easter Pie can be considered a complete vegetarian main course. In Italy Torta Pasqualina is served as a starter (either hot or cold) on Easter Sunday or during lunch/dinner parties.
Vegetarian Easter Pie Recipe
NOTE: if you can not find all the ingredients, you can substitute swiss chards with spinach and pecorino romano with parmigiano reggiano
- 370g (13oz) of swiss chards
- 140g (5oz) of ricotta cheese
- 60g (2oz) of parmigiano reggiano
- 30g (1oz) pecorino romano
- 2 round sheets of puff pastry, 20cm (8inch) and 40cm (16inch) in diameter
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper
Doses are for a round cake pan with a diameter of 20 cm (8-inch)
In Liguria the pastry for Torta Pasqualina is made with flour, water, salt and olive oil. The pastry is the same one used to make the famous focaccia di Recco.
It is curious note that this mixture is the same used to make vegan fresh pasta (without eggs). If in Emilia Romagna and throughout northern Italy fresh pasta is a classic dough made with one egg per 100 grams of flour, just go to Liguria or down a few kilometers in Tuscany, to meet a type of fresh pasta that was vegan before our modern time: trofie and pici, for example, are a type of pasta prepared with only water and flour.
However, in this recipe we used puff pastry; the ingredients are the same except that in place of olive oil you have to use butter. The result is a more soft and tasty pie but we admit that it’s definitely more greasy and…caloric.
And now let’s start with the recipe!
1) – Clean and boil the chards in lightly salted water for 5 minutes from the moment of boiling. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a bowl mix ricotta, Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese and 1 egg. Stir and mix all the ingredients and add salt and pepper.
2) – Now drain the chards and squeeze them well to remove all the water. Add the chards to the mixture. Mix well all the ingredients. You can leave chards as they are or mince them, as you prefer. We’ve let them whole.
3) – Take a round baking dish, made with glass or ceramic, even those of disposable aluminum are good as long as they have high sides. Lined it with baking paper. Then take the pastry of 40 cm (16 inches) diameter and line the baking dish. Fill it with the mixture of ricotta and chards. Make three small hollows in the filling, evenly spaced. Open in each hollow 1 whole raw egg.
4) – Finally, take the puff pastry of 20 cm (8 inches) and close the pie, folding the edges of the basic disk. Put in oven and bake at 180°(350F) for 50 minutes.
5) – Serve Vegetarian Easter Pie still hot or let it cool to room temperature.