Wednesday, April 15, 2009

TORTA PASQUALINA

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.

The Filling

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.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Sad there were no pictures of the gorgeous insides after it was cooked! I would have loved to have seen the contrast between the egg and the spinach! It looks and sounds delicious. -e