Ever since I lived in Italy in the late 80's, there are certain traditions ( mostly food related) that I have incorporated into my life. Every New Year's I am bound my tradition and superstition to eat cotecchino with Lentils. And most years I try to make a Torta Pasqualina for Easter. It's a dish that comes from the Piemonte region of northern Italy and I fondly remember having it with some Italian friends after Easter Mass with the Pope at the Vatican.
Traditionally, this Easter Cake is made from layers of dough ( some swear by 33 layers to recall the age of Christ when he was crucified), but in a pinch puff pastry can be substituted. This was a pinch year for me. We had three easter egg hunts and 4 parties to rotate into a busy weekend. I layer a sheet of puff pastry in a deep pie plate and then scoop the filling on top. An additional layer of dough covers the torte.
Traditionally chard is used as the main ingredient, but spinach is a suitable substitute. I saute the greens with some garlic and finely chopped onion. I flavor the mixture with lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Once the mixture has cooled down, add a combination of one egg, ricotta and parmesan cheese.
The special treat
One of the coolest things about the torte is the next step- create little wells or holes in the filling- and drop a raw egg into the gap, taking care not to break the yolk:
The final step is putting on a top layer (or layers) of dough and sealing the edges. The torte bakes for ~ 1 hour in a 400 degree oven. When you slice the finished product, the eggs make a pretty cross section against the green of the spinach.