Recipe: Torta Di Pasqua
To celebrate autumn and its wholesome bounty we have Gabby Trifiletti of @gabbyandthefourseasons stepping us through yet another of her delicious, Italian heritage dishes - Torta Di Pasqua - aka Easter Pie. Don't just limit your enjoyment of this winner of a recipe to the Easter holiday season folks. I recommend that you pop this easy and accessible recipe in your arsenal for all year around enjoyment.
Take it away Gabby...
"Ciao lovely people
I have a lovely recipe for you to make over the Easter break: a tasty simple pie filled with wilted greens, ricotta, cheese and eggs. Super-portable for a picnic – it’s very sturdy and can be made a day or two ahead. Delicious to eat warm or cold. Lovely served with a simple green salad and your favourite chutney, pickle or relish on the side will give it a lift, too.
This Italian pie hails from Liguria, in Italy’s north, and is traditionally served on Easter Monday (Pasquetta, or ‘little Easter’.) It’s a humble dish, made from simple ingredients most home cooks would have to hand: eggs, greens and cheese.
The original 14th Century recipe calls for 33 layers of thin, hand-made pastry to line the base of the pie (one for each day of Christ’s life.) I don’t have the dedication or stamina of those Nonni, but I think my zippy olive oil pastry substitute fits the bill for us modern-day home cooks. I promise you this is the easiest pastry in the world – and it’s vegan – just wholemeal flour, water, olive oil and salt. Mix together, wrap in cling film, into the fridge for an hour, whilst you get on with the filling. No food processor, no rubbing in butter etc. Ten minutes tops, go to woe for the pastry. Just the thing for whiling away the afternoon baking and eating, in this gentle autumn weather.
But if you’re not in the mood to make pastry, you can certainly use frozen pastry – puff, short crust or filo would work very well. (Rhubarb Rhubarb have the beautiful frozen Careme pastry, which would be perfect for this pie.) Just follow the instructions on the packet of whichever frozen pastry you choose to buy. If you’re using filo, you’ll need about 6 sheets of pastry for the base, brushed with melted butter or oil in between each layer. Four sheets will be enough for the top.
This pie is vegetarian, but you could also add chopped bacon, ham or pancetta (about 100g.) This would move it more into ‘egg and bacon pie’ or Quiche Lorraine-meets-Quiche Florentine territory – and what would be wrong with that?
If you want to go vegan use 2-3 cups of roasted vegetables of your choice (eg. roasted pumpkin, capsicum, zucchini, purple onion, garlic) in place of the ricotta, cheese and egg mixture. You can still do the greens as per the recipe below, and add silken tofu and/ or crumbled vegan cheese, gently stirring them through the vegetables, and place into your pastry-lined tin, as per the recipe.
Honestly, any of the beautiful autumn bounty would be delicious in this very adaptable pie: gently cooked mushrooms, cauliflower, brocoli or kale would also be superb. Take a look at what’s looking seductive in-store at Rhubarb Rhubarb: you can’t go wrong with nature’s seasonal produce.
Whatever you’re doing over Easter, I hope you have a relaxing break and can enjoy a meal together with family and friends.
Take care and stay safe."
- Gabby Trifiletti, April 2022
GABBY'S EASTER PIE WITH SILVERBEET, RICOTTA + EGGS
Makes: 1 large pie
Cooking time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Ingredients for Olive Oil Pastry (skip this stage if using frozen pastry):
- 250g wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 60 ml olive oil
- 120 ml cold water
Method for pastry:
- Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil and the water.
- Mix in with a fork to bring all ingredients together into a dough.
- Turn on to floured surface, and form with your hands into a ball.
- Flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour before rolling out.
Ingredients for Filling:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion (red or brown), peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small bulb of fennel, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 bunch rainbow chard (or spinach, silverbeet, 3-4 heads of broccoli, or kale) washed, stems cut finely, leaves cut into strips (keep stems and leaves separate)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tub ricotta (I used 325 g Mungalli Creek organic ricotta, available from Rhubarb. Make sure ricotta is well-drained)
- 150 g (1.5 cups) grated Reggiano Parmigianno (or other tasty cheese)
- 4 organic eggs (for ricotta mixture)
- 1.5 cups mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, oregano, washed and chopped
- ½ teaspoon allspice (or nutmeg)
Optional: chopped bacon, ham, pancetta or prosciutto
Method for filling:
- Soften garlic, onion, chard stems and fennel in frypan with the olive oil, over low to medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Put a lid on to help soften without browning. Don’t rush: it may take 10-15 mins to soften everything. This slower cooking really develops the flavour and provides the base for the pie filling.
- Add chard leaves, continue cooking until leaves wilt.
- Allow to cool in pan.
- Once cool, drain through a seive to remove all moisture. Tip into a large bowl.
- Add ricotta, grated cheese, allspice and break in the 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing lightly as you go.
- Gently stir through the herbs. (Add bacon etc. now, if using.)
- Taste for seasoning: add more salt, pepper or cheese if needed. Set filling aside.
Ingredients for pie assembly:
- 6 organic eggs (to break into pie filling)
- 1 organic egg (or ¼ cup milk) to glaze pie
- Sesame seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds (optional, your choice, for topping)
Method for pie assembly:
- Set oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Prepare baking tin: round metal springform tin, greased and base lined with baking paper, or round greased pie tin (metal, ceramic or glass), or other ‘baking’ tin (needs to be at least 5 cm deep, and fit all of your filling.)
- Remove pastry from fridge.
- Cut 1/3 of dough and set aside for the lid.
- Sprinkle flour on bench, and roll out the pastry with rolling pin (if you have one, or floured bottle of wine works pretty well, too) to fit your baking tin: it needs to cover the base and come up the sides and overlap the top a bit, too.
- Place rolling pin on top of the middle of your pastry, gently fold the pastry over it, and transfer to your baking tin.
- Set aside the rolling pin, and gently ease the pastry into the tin: take your time, use your hands to make sure the pastry is pushed into the corners.
- Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.
- Spoon the filling evenly into the pastry case.
- Make 6 indentations in the top of the filling with a spoon: one in the middle, five evenly around it.
- Break open one egg at a time, into each hole.
- Roll out the extra piece of pastry to fit the top of your pie and place it on top of your filling.
- Using beaten extra egg, or milk, brush the edge of the lid, and along the rim of the top of the pastry that lines the pie.
- Press the sides of the pastry onto the lid, going all the way round the edges to close it.
- Glaze the the whole top of the pie with egg/ milk.
- Cut two little slits in top of pie.
- Sprinkle with sesame or other seeds (if using.)
- Bake for 45 minutes, checking at 30 minutes that temp is not too high (and pie not burning), or until pastry golden, and pie feels solid and ‘set.’
- Remove from oven and allow to cool, before removing from springform (or other) baking tin and serving.
Photographs by Emma Byrnes