Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina, the popular pie from Genoa, is traditionally served on Easter day as an appetiser. Usually prepared with several layers of homemade thin sheets of pastry – sort of phyllo -, the pie is stuffed with vegetables, ricotta, Parmesan, marjoram and eggs. The Swiss chard is the main ingredient but you can find different versions of the dish with both chard and artichokes or with only artichokes. Each family has its own recipe in Genoa. A true inspiration.

My Torta Pasqualina
In my recipe I replace the original phyllo pastry with the brisée, which I find easier to make and lighter to eat. Finally, I add fresh green peas to the chard to enhance the sweetness and the colours of the new season, whereas the heart-shape tin would highlight the feast's celebration.

For the pastry:
300 g white flour ‘00’
150 g cold butter, chopped
A pinch of salt
50 ml very cold water
For the filling:
1 large onion, finely chopped
500 g young Swiss chard, washed and drained, stalks removed and chopped, leaves roughly cut
250 g fresh green peas, shelled
250 g ricotta
30 g freshly grated pecorino
30 g freshly grated Parmesan
4 large eggs
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
A good handful of fresh marjoram
1 yolk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Serves 8
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 75 minutes

1.    In a large bowl, place flour, salt and butter and with the tips of your fingers quickly mix the ingredients together. Mix in water and rapidly knead to smooth dough. Wrap it in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2.     In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and soften the onion with a pinch of salt on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until translucent.
3.   Stir in the chard stalks and cook covered for 5 minutes. Add the chard leaves and sauté for another 5 minutes until the leaves have wilted and the stalks have softened. Increase the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the water has completely evaporated. You want the mixture to be dry.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit.
4.     In a small pan, bring 500 ml of water to the boil and cook the peas for 5 minutes. Drain and stir into the chard.
5.  Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Incorporate the cheeses, the nutmeg, 1 egg and the marjoram, a good pinch of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Mix together.
6.     Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  1. On a floured work surface, roll out 2/3 of the pastry into a thinly circle (35 cm diameter). Transfer to a round (22 cm) spring-form cake tin with 5 cm high sides.

  1. Spoon in the filling and with the spoon create three egg-sized holes. Break an egg into each hole. Roll out the remaining pastry to a small circle (22 cm) and lay on top. Twist the edges to seal, brush with the yolk and prick a few times with a fork.

9.     Bake for 50 minutes until cooked and golden.
10. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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