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Chard & Ricotta Italian Easter Pie

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Easter is fast approaching, and if you are looking for a different recipe, you should definitely try this Italian classic! Known as Torta Pasqualina, this pie is so substantial and satisfying both to make and to eat. The pastry is rather unusual and requires you to make several thin sheets of dough, which are layered to create an almost filo-type pastry. Once the filling has been spooned into the base, deep holes are made where eggs are nestled. Once cooked, the eggs are dramatic and visually very beautiful next to the green filling. If you don’t want to make the pastry, store-bought filo would work well, as would shortcrust. This pie is best served hot from the oven.

SERVES 6-8
400 g tipo 00 flour, plus extra
for dusting
pinch of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
plus extra for brushing
200 ml iced water
5 eggs

CHARD AND
RICOTTA FILLING

300 g fresh ricotta
50 g parmesan, grated
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
sea salt
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
800 g chard leaves, washed
and finely chopped
iced water, for refreshing
800 g English spinach leaves,
washed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons oregano or marjoram
leaves, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23 cm round springform tin with olive oil.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the olive oil and water and mix with your hands until the mixture forms a ball. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Divide the dough into six balls and cover with a clean tea towel.
  3. For the filling, combine the ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and lemon zest in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a low-medium heat and gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer. Set aside to cool. Blanch the silverbeet in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until wilted, refresh in iced water and drain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Repeat this process with the spinach and add both greens to the ricotta along with the cooled onion mixture and the oregano or marjoram. Add the egg and gently stir until well combined.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one of the balls of dough to a very thin circle, as thin as you can roll it, stretching with your hands to help it along. Drape the pastry into the prepared tin and brush with olive oil. Roll out the next two balls of dough, repeating the draping and brushing. There should be about 4 cm of dough overhanging the tin.
  6. Spoon the filling into the tin and spread to level the mixture. Using the back of a spoon, make four deep indentations in the mixture and crack an egg into each of them. Repeat the rolling, draping and brushing with the three remaining balls of dough to make a top for your pie.
  7. Trim the overhanging pastry to just 2 cm, then fold in the dough edge, crimping as you go, to seal the pie.
  8. Whisk 1 tsp of water into the remaining egg to make a wash and brush the top of the pie and the crimped edge. Using a small sharp knife, poke a few steam holes in the middle of the pie.
  9. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the pastry is golden and the pie is piping hot in the middle. Check by inserting a metal skewer into the pie; it should come out very hot to the touch.
  10. Allow to cool briefly, then remove the pie from the tin and transfer to a serving plate or board. Serve hot.

 

© Image and recipe by Julia Ostro

 

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