Torta Pasqualina, Italian Easter Pie, a beautifully rustic, heart warming and comforting, traditional Italian Easter dish, that exudes nothing but flavor and texture, from the crispy and flaky crust to the velvety, creamy, and earthy center. The best part, those golden bright sunshine rounds of deliciousness, the eggs!
Song of the day: The way we were – Barbra Streisand.
Torta Pasqualina, Italian Easter Pie, is a traditional recipe that follows through in the Regions of Italy. Everyone has their own take on it, and everyone is equally delicious. The importance is the passion and company you prepare it with.
This is a shared post, written by both Loreto and Nicoletta.
L: Easter for me has always been special. If you ask me what I remember most, are those days when my Nonna came to share a few days with us. The smell of freshly baked Easter bread in the air, with that unmistakable scent of anise always had me craving a slice, with a nice cold glass of milk. I was always fascinated by the patterns in the bread and how they got it to swirl to the center. I would play a game trying not to disturb the art but cut into it respecting the flow of the pattern. I know I was a weird child, no worries you have to be weird in this world to make it through. My Nonna was injured in the war and lost her leg. She had a wooden one instead and when she was resting after hard hours in the kitchen, I would play with that leg that she set beside the bed. Nonna would hide money in it. I would always reach in and discover it. It was kind of like an Easter egg hunt, but in a monetary sort of way, and my nonna would gesture with her fingers to her lips to keep it a secret, and put the money in your pocket fast. Beautiful memories and feelings of gratitude for having had the experiences. I know I am rambling on Nicoletta, how about you what do you remember most about Easter?
N: Easter, Pasqua, to me meant spring and nice, warm temperatures. We would spend the holidays in our house in the countryside, and visit with nonni, and all the relatives that were there for the same reason. I remember lots of food, and most of all the chocolate easter eggs. I would get to open mine, Easter morning, and see the surprise that was inside. Then the breakfast buffet that my mother had ready for after Mass and all the friends and family that would stop and eat and chat with us in a beautiful, festive atmosphere. The Torta Pasqualina was not in the picture, though, it is not from our Region, but from the north of Italy, so it wasn’t traditional for us. It got included later on with my brother’s girlfriend family being from Genova. They would make it and bring it to us to enjoy. Marvelous discovery! And I have to thank them for the recipe here adapted.
L: I love hearing your stories, Amore. It feels like I am there with you, pulled back in some time warp, hearing the echoes of the past. I wanted to tell you I remember the first time I met your family in Italy when Joel and I came to visit. I felt so welcomed and loved, thank you for this. Your Nonni were so cute, holding hands sitting close to one another, and the love they had for each other truly an amazing thing to witness. Thanks for reminding me about spring too, such a wonderful season. I remember smelling spring, those sunny days, and the long hours spent outside adventuring. Okay, enough with the sentimentalities. Let’s get to our day with Valerie and how we came to make this wonderful Torta Pasqualina!
N: You’re always long winded, I don’t know how you can have so much to say, lol!
L: I was quite excited when Valerie from A Canadian Foodie, reached out to us, asking if we would like to be a part of her project. For me collaborating with other foodies is always a passion. I love learning and watching people. Especially when cooking or creating. I like that twinkle in the eyes when one has had an aha moment and dives right in to create. How about you amore, what were you thinking when we were asked to do this project?
N: I was thrilled and frightened at the same time. Happy to share a traditional Italian recipe and my passion for making dough and baking, but scared to be cooking in somebody else’s kitchen, and with somebody so experienced and well known. Plus, new environments and new people always give me a bit of anxiety, I am not the social part of the duo, lol. But Valerie is wonderful and so welcoming, and her humor and hospitality lighten and brighten the air.
L: I remember how nervous you were about making this Torta Pasqualina. I wasn’t worried as I know you are good with doughs. I call you the dough whisperer. Those hands just know the consistency, no matter what type of dough you are making. I love the look on your face and the way your fingers touch the dough and it’s just right. Then the smile, absolutely enjoyable to watch. What is it that you feel in your hands Nicoletta, or is it a compilation of feelings from hands to stomach, then heart?
N: Thank you, amore, you are always so kind. I don’t know, it seems my hands just know when the dough is ready and is the right consistency. I guess it started as a “genetic inheritance”, watching my great grandma, grandma, mom, and aunts, their confident gestures, their face and ease of movements, touching the final product, then taste it, built a drawer of happy dough making memories that I access every time. But it’s also passion, intuition, gut feeling, and a bit of experience. I only know that making dough (pasta, pizza, pastry, bread) is my most enjoyable moment. Making the dough for Torta Pasqualina, though, was a bit of a challenge. It is like making your own phyllo pastry, that has to be so light and airy and flaky, and everybody knows it is not the easiest one to make. Only we did not make that many layers as the traditional recipe calls (33), we just made 5 (hallelujah for that!, lol). How fun it was in Valerie’s kitchen! If I was dubious and worried, it all dissolved when I started kneading my dough.
L: I can only imagine 33 layers, that dough was tricky but the end result, wonderful. It was funny as we tossed the idea of the filling around going from just spinach, to just swiss chard, then combining, maybe not. One thing we knew for sure was that we could not make the traditional artichoke/chard mix, as we don’t have those type of tender, small artichokes, here. Very hard to find. Maybe one day we can make this Torta Pasqualina in Italy, I have never spent Easter there. I am glad we went with the combination of spinach and swiss chard. The flavors complimented one another well and as you can see in the picture it looks so inviting. The aroma in Valerie’s kitchen came alive, music playing and laughter echoing in the background. Intensive hand work getting that dough to where we needed it to be, and Valerie standing confidently beside her Thermomix waiting for her dough to be done, so she could do some handwork also. Amore, were you happy with the decision to combine greens?
N: You know I am not one for messing with traditional, classic Italian recipes. So my first impulse was “that’s not gonna work”. I remember going back and forth, pondering, only swiss chard, only spinach, maybe both. Then I realized that environment plays a big role in cooking and one must adapt the recipes to what can be found in the region. And so, our Canadian Torta Pasqualina came to be. And you’re absolutely right, what flavors it had!
L: My favorite part of this Torta Pasqualina is the eggs embedded in the spinach and cheese mixture. A true symbol of Easter and new beginnings, with the color bringing nothing but smiles. Valerie had a wonderful idea as she started bringing cheeses we had never had before, out of the fridge, such as this creamy feta and another European cheese that you can see on her site. It just elevated the filling to heights I cannot even imagine. This is the joy of working with people, ideas flow, new experiences, and always memories that will be shared. The brightness of these eggs let us know that these chickens were free and fed well. I can’t wait to get the top on and into the oven! Nicoletta, what was your most favorite part of this recipe?
N: When I was putting the last 3 layers of thinly rolled dough on the top to cover the beautiful surprise hidden inside, then rolling the edges and seal our final touch to this magnificent creation. But another favorite moment was when, after the waiting time out of the oven, Valerie took a knife and cut through the thick torta to reveal a perfectly cooked crust and a gorgeous inside!
L: You can see the beauty in this crust even before baking. The wonderful rolled edges and that velvety smooth dough. The fragrance coming from the oven as these two beauties baked was heaven’s scent. The cheese in the filling, the olive oil in the dough, just thinking of those eggs cooking in all that luxuriousness, has me so excited to see that first piece. I think I am right in saying that you were excited too, amore?
N: Oh yes, I was like a kid waiting to unwrap and cut open my Easter chocolate egg! The moment of truth, that would reveal if our hard work of half a day, proved to be successful. And it sure was, from the first tap on the top of the crust and that beautiful hollow sound, to the golden hue of the dough throughout, then, when cutting the first slice, the aroma coming out, and the color combination…just a memorable experience!
L: You are so right Nicoletta, that egg just stands out so beautifully in the backdrop of the spinach and cheese canvas. I am so proud of all three of us and the work we shared in with a passion that can drive mountains to move.
L: We did not cut into ours, but Valerie was quick to cut into hers that day and for us to have a sample taste. First of all that crust, light airy layers, crisp, flaky, rich in that olive oil flavor. The filling so luxurious. The cheeses melted in the layers, mingling with the spinach and swiss chard. Nice surprise, subtle hints of nutmeg and marjoram lingering on your palate. The best part, that egg steamed in that wonderful filling lending its unmistakable richness and texture to the mix, including a beautiful presentation that visually encapsulates you. It just makes you feel like royalty, and well taken care of, as your heart melts and falls in love with this Torta Pasqualina. What do you think, amore, have I touched on all the flavors and textures?
N: You’re the best, and your descriptions always make people salivate and suddenly hungry, lol! The Torta Pasqualina was absolutely delicious. A morsel, and those flavors brought me back to familiar places, among familiar faces. The richness of the greens mixed in with the richness of the cheese and the eggs, all enclosed in a wonderfully tasty and light crust, for me that is the epitome of the things I like most to eat: veggies, cheese, eggs, and carbs. Wish we still had a piece to enjoy, my mouth is watering at the recollection!
L: I wanted to recap our day with Valerie from A Canadian Foodie. I am grateful for her hospitality, the beauty, and warmth of her home. The beautiful music in the background, the way we flowed so effortlessly together creating, cooking, problem-solving. The countless taste tests and nibbling, more so on my part, the wonderful intimate sharing of our lives. The wonderful question and answering time in her great room. All the hugs, fun times and laughter. This day will be a memory of mine, that I am sure will be shared with other foodies, friends, and family. Thank you, Valerie, from the bottom of my heart for including us in your project. I feel honored and privileged to be a part of it.
N: I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share with you and Valerie, one of the symbols of Easter in Italy, the Torta Pasqualina. I am sure we made my family in Italy, and our families here, proud, for the beauties we created. That day in Valerie’s kitchen will stay in my mind forever and it has already joined that “drawer of happy dough making memories”. For the whole experience of that day, visit A Canadian Foodie’s page. Valerie’s detailed and beautiful narration, alongside the step by step pictures, will give you the whole experience. And maybe, why not, will drive you to make this amazing Torta Pasqualina!
L: and N: From us to you and your loved ones, Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!
Song of the day: The way we were – Barbra Streisand.Print
- 300/350 g flour type 00 (plus more for the work surface)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- 500 g organic baby spinach
- 500 g organic tender small leaf chard (we’ll use just the leaves not the stems)
- 1 small onion
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Salt to taste
- 600 g cow fresh Ricotta
- 1–2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 50 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- few drops water
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3–4 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 eggs
- a pinch salt
- a dash ground pepper
- a sprinkle Parmigiano
- Put the flour in a bowl with the olive oil and salt, then slowly add ½ cup of lukewarm water.
- Work the dough with your hands, gently, to obtain a soft, elastic dough (adding water if needed) until it no longer sticks to your hands (try not to add more flour than 350 grams, as this will make the dough too hard).
- Place dough on a floured work surface and knead it till it becomes smooth, silky and compact.
- Form a loaf and set it to rest in a loaf pan, at least 1 hour, covered with a damp cloth so that it remains soft, while in the meantime preparing the filling.
- Wash and spin dry the spinach and chard. If the chard leaves are big and not tender, blanch them in boiling water until tender.
- Finely chop a small onion and put it into a large saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic whole and 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute at medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Toss in the spinach, chard and marjoram. Saute until tender, adding some water, if necessary to facilitate the cooking process. Season with salt. Take off heat and set aside to cool in a colander to drain excess water.
- Take the ricotta, pour it into a large bowl and mash with a fork, until it becomes soft. Add greek yogurt and stir. Chop finely the cold greens and add them to the ricotta, stirring the mixture well.
- Add one egg at a time to the mixture, continue stirring until absorbed before adding the next egg.
- Finally sprinkle in the grated Parmigiano, white pepper and nutmeg.
- Give a final stir until mixture is well incorporated.
- In a small pan over low heat, add ½ teaspoon salt and few drops of water. When the salt has dissolved, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. When melted, remove from the heat and let it cool. Set aside. You need this mixture to brush the sheets.
- Take the cake pan, possibly a springfold or with a removable bottom, size 20/22 cm and with high sides. Oil it very well, bottom, sides and upper rim
- Cut the dough into 5 pieces, 2 bigger (for the bottom of the pan) and 3 smaller (for the top).
- Work one piece of dough at a time, the rest should remain covered to preserve the moisture and thus the elasticity of the dough.
- Dust very little flour on a work surface, just enough to prevent the dough from sticking while spreading.
- With a rolling pin, spread the dough until you obtain a disc almost the same circumference of the cake pan. At this point, placing the disc of dough on the back of your floured hands, gently proceed to widen it even further until obtaining a greater circumference so that the dough spills from the edge of the pan of 2-3 cm (the edges will be on the top, folded onto themselves and closed towards the inside).
- It’s important that the upper rim of the pan is well-oiled to prevent the dough from sticking and breaking.
- Place the first sheet into the pan, and dip a small pastry brush (soft bristle) in the butter/oil and lightly brush the sheet, starting from the center, then the inner and outer edges of the pastry and the top rim. Be very careful to keep a very light brush to not break the dough. Also, the butter/oil must be well dissolved and never hot to not break the dough.
- Place the second sheet on top of the first one and repeat the same light brushing with the butter/oil.
- If few air bubbles form between the layers, it will be sufficient to lift a bit the sheet from the edge of the pan to let the air out.
- Once prepared the bottom of the cake, add the cold filling, gently spreading it until it fills the whole pan. Then, with the back of a spoon, create in the filling 8 “holes” (not too deep as to see the dough underneath), 7 around and 1 in the center, where you’re going to break the eggs.
- Carefully break the eggs in the holes, avoiding to break the yolks.
- Sprinkle on each egg a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and some grated Parmigiano.
- Spread the remaining 3 pieces of dough into 3 sheets that will be laid to cover the filling, making sure to repeat the butter/oil gently brushing on each of them.
- At this point, the excess dough on the edges must be folded and rolled gently inside of the pan, creating a “rope” all around (if it’s too much, cut it with a knife and discard). Brush the top of the cake with butter/oil.
- Bake in the preheated oven (at the lowest rack) at 180° C (350° F), for 45 minutes to 1 hour according to your oven, or until golden brown, checking the oven from time to time. In case the top part is getting too dark, create a round foil disc to cover the top of the cake.
- Take out of the oven and let cool completely before serving.
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