Torta Pasqualina is a famous Ligurian dish, in particular of the Genoa area, nowadays popular all over Italy. Torta Pasqualina, or Easter pie, is a traditional Italian Easter dish made with puff pastry, vegetables like spinach, chard or artichokes, ricotta cheese and eggs.
In this recipe of torta Pasqualina we use chard, respecting the tradition. In fact, during Easter the humble country chard were in full bud and everyone could afford to purchase large quantities. On the contrary, artichokes were very expensive.
In addition, this savory pie is made with puff pastry, but in the past it’s said that it has been made with thirty-three sheets of very thin pastry, one for each year of Jesus’ life.
In Italy every family has its own Torta Pasqualina recipe: there are those who use artichokes or spinach instead of swiss chard, who adds a little bit of bacon to the mixture, those who prefer crescenzacheese instead of ricotta.
This below is the traditional Italian Easter savory pie recipe; simple, easy, made with few fresh ingredients. And it makes for a terrific vegetarian main course, doesn’t matter what you’re celebrating.
The most important thing of this pie is that the eggs must be whole and baked inside. Follow the step by step recipe to see how to make the perfect torta Pasqualina at the first shot!
Torta Pasqualina Recipe
Doses are for a round cake pan with a diameter of 20 cm (8 inch)
- 370 g (13 oz) of chard or spinach
- 140 g (5 oz) of ricotta cheese
- 60 g (2 oz) of parmigiano reggiano
- 30 g (1 oz) pecorino romano
- 2 sheets of puff pastry
- 4 whole medium eggs
- a pinch of fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Step 1) – Wash the leaves of the chard or spinach carefully, based on what you have chosen as vegetables. Then place them into a large pot with a little water. Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a bowl mix ricotta, Parmigiano cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese and 1 egg. Stir and mix all the ingredients. Add a pinch of fine salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Step 2) – Now drain the vegetables and squeeze them well with your hands to remove all the water. You can leave chard as they are or mince them, as you prefer. We’ve let them whole. Now add them to the mixture. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
Step 3) – Take a 8 inch round cake pan and line it with baking paper. Then line it with one of the sheets of puff pastry. Now fill it with the mixture of cheeses and chard. Make three small hollows in the vegetable mixture, evenly spaced. Place in each hole one whole raw egg.
Step 4) – Finally, Cut a 20 cm (8 inch) circle out of the second sheet of puff pastry. Place it carefully over the top of the mixture. Close the pie, folding down the edges of the pastry lining to join up with the disk. Put in oven and bake at 180° C (350 F) for 50 minutes. Serve Torta Pasqualina still hot or let it cool to room temperature.
You can keep Torta Pasqualina in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, for 3 days.
Once cooked and completely cooled, you can even froze it. You can already cut it into slices in order to defrost only the portions you will need. Before serving, defrost it in the refrigerator and then reheat it in the oven or microwave.
Torta Pasqualina variant with chard is the typical Ligurian and most famous recipe. However, it’s always possible to modify the recipe as you wish and adapt it to your tastes.
You can use seasonal vegetables which are perfect for this recipe. Try for example Torta Pasqualina with Artichokes or with Radicchio for a less delicate taste.
Another seasonal vegetable often used as a variant in this Easter pie are Asparagus, a symbol of the arrival of spring! The flavor of asparagus blends perfectly with that of eggs, parmigiano and ricotta. Asparagus and Ricotta Tart is a delicious and very tasteful rustic pie and it is a classic dish of the spring season.
If you love richer and more decisive flavors, we recommend the following variant to the traditional recipe: after boiling the chard, mix them in a pan with chopped onions, a chopped clove of garlic and a sprig of chopped parsley. You will get an incredibly tasty result, which will be perfectly balanced by the delicacy of the ricotta.
There are different variations of Torta Pasqualina in a lot of Italian regions. An example is the recipe for the Umbrian Pasqualina cake called “Crescia di Pasqua“. In Italy this dish opens the Resurrection Sunday meal and is used in place of bread: it’s a soft dough made with grated cheese, which must be cut into slices and eaten with different cured meats.
Halfway between the typical version of Genoa and the Umbrian one, there is the Neapolitan Pasqualina Cake, called “Pizza Chiena”: a savory pie with a very rich filling, based on eggs, cheeses and various cold cuts.
Flour, Water, Salt and Olive Oil: same Ingredients for Different Recipes
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 see 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.