The first time I spotted a version of this Italian savoury treat was around 20 years ago in Peru, strangely enough. Mum and myself, we were spending a few days in Lima before going on to Machupicchu. Anyway we found this delightful spinach and chard pie with whole boiled eggs inside, so delicious we went back for some again and again and still talk about it to this day. We’d eat our slices as we ambled along in the glaring sun and hazy humidity along a new modern seafront complex. I don’t remember much about Lima except The Pie. So while recently browsing the internet for Easter treats imagine my delight upon encountering la Torta pasqualina, so very similar to … The Pie. There are many variations but mine is made with swiss chard, parmesan, quark instead of ricotta and Spanish oveja (sheep’s) cheese instead of Italian pecorino. Usually there are around 4 whole boiled eggs nestling in there but 12 little quail’s eggs is ideal. Finally the lower-gluten olive oil pastry can be made with white spelt flour, buckwheat and 00 flour. Fast, easy and really tasty warm or cold for a picnic. Perfect for Spring, Easter and all year around! It is normal to fall in love with food isn’t it? 🙂
There are a multitude of Italian recipes for Torta Pasqualina online from which I adapted the proportions, instructions and advice. The Quark and quail’s eggs were my idea. And the ratio of half parmesan and half sheep’s cheese was yummy (maybe mum suggested that). I finally went for 100% swiss chard because it’s delightfully mild and used the torta di verdura pastry I’d learnt from an Italian nonna (grandmother) with a double layer for the bottom so if the inside layer softens the outer layer stays dry. This is the final version after the gruelling work of making five or six prototype pies and eating them. Lol. Mum was visiting and helped with the last one, giving it the big thumbs up. Hurray! So let’s make this pie…
- 300g/2 and 1/3 cups 00 or fine white spelt flour (I used 300g white spelt or 150g fine white spelt, 100g buckwheat and 50g ’00’ flour)
- quarter teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
- 60-90g/1/4 to 1/2 cup cold water (it depends on the flour you use – add enough to make a soft dough and if it’s too wet just lightly knead in a little additional flour. It’s almost easier to have it too wet first than to knead a dry dough).
Weigh the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt and whisk to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the olive oil and water. Make a soft dough. If it’s sticky add a little flour. Knead lightly and just for a few seconds to a minute. Don’t overwork. Make a ball, cover in plastic film and let it rest 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge.
Filling – make any adaptations you like. You can fry a chopped onion and add it to the filling. Or maybe little pieces of bacon. Yum.
- 600ag/21oz Swiss chard leaves (with some of the stem, chopped into pieces) – I bought 2 of those plastic bags filled with ready-cut leaves in the supermarket. Optional: 300g chard with 300g spinach leaves or 600g spinach.
- 30g/1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- 250g/8.8oz Quark or ricotta
- 30g/3/4 cup freshly-grated sheep’s cheese (like Oveja or Pecorino)
- 30g/3/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or more, to taste
- freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
This pie’s ready when the pastry’s done and a nice light brown, underneath as well. When out of the oven wait a few minutes then take out of the tin and place on a wire rack. Serve now or later.
Eating and storing
Torta pasqualina’s delicious warm or cold. Store it at room temperature loosely covered in a clean tea towel. Have it as a snack, part of a meal or take it on a picnic!
It’s so yummy me and mum almost made a second one in the same week, but then got caught up eating out and being tourists in Barcelona together. Still it was like seeing a long lost friend again, it so reminded us of The Pie in Lima. Ah food memories. Anyway, I really recommend you also try this torta pasqualina with swiss chard, quark and quail’s eggs or whatever you like!
Lovely of you to drop in and wishing you a lovely week recapturing or creating new food memories of your own. Happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x