Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
Torta Pasqualina is a double-crust pie with a dense filling of spinach, eggs, and ricotta cheese. Assemble the pie a day ahead, then bake and let cool before serving.
6 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ to 2 cups ice water
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Four 10-ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 cups skim-milk ricotta cheese, well drained
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Olive oil for brushing
8 large eggs
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Add 1 ½ cups ice water, a little at a time, and mix with your hands to form a rough ball of dough. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add just enough additional ice water to form a smooth ball; the dough should not be sticky.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Set aside, covered, on a floured surface.
In a bowl, mix the spinach with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the half-and half, marjoram, and salt. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 10 by 3-inch springform pan. On a floured surface, roll one piece of the dough into a 12-inch circle. Brush with a little olive oil, and place in the bottom of the springform pan. Repeat with 4 more pieces of dough, brushing each one with a little olive oil.
Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the dough. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the spinach. Use the whole egg to make 8 shallow impressions in the ricotta, then carefully crack 1 egg into each impression. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper and put ½ tablespoon of the butter on each one. Sprinkle the Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese over the eggs.
One at a time, roll out the remaining 5 pieces of dough into 12-inch circles. Carefully lay the circles over the eggs, letting the edges hang over the pan, and brush each one with olive oil. Trim off the excess dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Tuck the top layers of dough in around the edges of the pan and pinch to seal. (At this point the pie can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to bake, or overnight.)
Two hours before serving time, brush the top of the torta with the egg wash. Bake the pie for 1 hour or until the top is nicely browned. Let cool to room temperature.
Release the sides of the springform pan and cut the torta into wedges.
This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1995.