Torta Pasqualina, a savory double-crusted pie filled with greens, artichokes and hard boiled eggs, originated in Genoa in the 1500s, but has become a tradition across Italy in the years since its creation. Our spinach-based recipe comes from Calabrian food blogging duo Cristina Bruno and Giuliano Bronzi of Vuoi Assaggiare.
Given that it’s typically served at Easter, the pie is rich with Christian symbolism. It was originally made with 33 sheets of puff pastry to represent each year of Jesus’s life. (That said, it doesn’t have to have dozens of layers of crust to be delicious and nowadays, it’s often made with fewer.) Cristina and Giuliano‘s pie uses a laminated rough puff pastry as the base, for a slice that’s flaky and buttery and less time intensive than traditional puff pastry. Looking for even more of a shortcut? Use puff pastry found in the frozen section of your supermarket.
The filling – greens, artichokes, eggs and cheese–also carries meaning. The eggs that feature so prominently stand for fertility, and being born again, the way Christ was said to be. Artichokes, once considered vegetables befitting the nobility, are in this way luxurious enough to make the cut for an Easter feast.
As beautiful as it is delicious, when you slice into this pie, you’ll reveal a hard boiled egg surrounded by the brilliant green of spinach and artichokes. Want to make sure each slice is a stunner? To know where best to reveal your eggs, lightly score the top of your pastry with a butter knife before baking.
Notes: If you’d prefer to use store-bought pastry instead of making your own, look for sheets of frozen puff pastry at your local grocery store.
one 24-centimetre pie
Ooni Karu 16 Pizza Oven
24x4cm (9x2”) cake pan
For the pastry
5½ cups (650 grams) ‘00’ flour
1 cup and 1 tablespoon (250 millilitres) water
2 teaspoons (12 grams) salt
¾ cup (165 grams) softened butter
1¾ cups (400 grams) cold butter, cubed
For the filling:
50 grams onion, sliced
500 grams spinach
6 artichoke hearts, about 200 grams
50 grams grated Parmesan cheese
300 grams sheep's milk ricotta
5 millilitres extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons (28 grams) for sautéing
5 grams ground nutmeg
5 grams marjoram
For the egg wash
1 egg, beaten
Combine flour, salt, water and softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on the lowest speed for two and a half minutes. Add the cold, cubed butter and mix for another 60 seconds. The butter should now be incorporated into the dough, but not completely absorbed.
Place the dough on a flour-dusted countertop and dust with more flour. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough rectangle, taking care not to apply too much pressure.
Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, stretch the dough back and forth until it’s about 28 inches (70 centimetres) in length, dusting with flour if it becomes sticky.
Take one edge of the dough and fold it a third of the way over the rest of the dough. Then, lift the opposite side of the dough and stretch it over the first fold, laying it on top to create three layers. From the side, you should see three sections of dough on top of each other.
Roll it out again lengthwise, forward and backward until it’s about 28 inches (70 centimetres) in length.
Now, fold the dough four times, first taking one edge of the dough and folding it to the center of the rectangle. Take the other edge and fold toward the center so the edges of the dough now meet each other. Then, fold the entire piece in half, closing it as if it were a book.
Flatten it gently with the rolling pin to about 2 inches (5 centimetres) thick, wrap it completely in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.
After an hour's rest, remove the dough from the refrigerator and repeat the four fold process from the previous step. Roll the dough out one more time and make a final four fold. Leave in the fridge covered in cling film for at least two hours (or overnight, if you can).
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it rest for three hours in a warm place.
While your dough is resting, make the filling. Place four eggs in boiling water and cook until hard boiled, about 10 minutes. Slice your onion and fry in two separate pans with a tablespoon of olive oil each. Put the spinach in one of the pans, then add 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) of water to wilt the spinach, cooking for about 5 minutes until the spinach is dark green and soft. Slice your artichoke hearts into thin strips and add them to the other pan with the onion. Pour 10 millilitres over the onions and artichokes, close the lid, and cook until the artichokes are softened, about 15 minutes. Once soft, strain off any excess water.
In a large bowl, mix the grated Parmesan cheese and ricotta. Drizzle with a teaspoon (5 millilitres) of extra-virgin olive oil. Add grated nutmeg and marjoram, and a pinch of salt. Stir in onions, spinach, artichokes, and one egg.
After the three-hour rest, stretch out your dough to a diameter of roughly 120 centimetres and a thickness of ½ centimetre, dusting the pastry with flour as necessary.. Once all the pastry is stretched out, t use the cake pan as your guide to cut out two 24-centimetre circles, which will form the base and the top of the pie.
Cut a sheet of baking paper or parchment paper to fit the bottom of the cake pan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the paper and spread it out evenly with a brush. Place one of the circles of pastry on top of the parchment paper. It will climb up the edges of the pan, which will help it connect to the top layer of pastry.
Remove the shells from the hard boiled eggs by placing an egg in a glass, covering the top with your hand and shaking until the shell falls off in pieces. Place the filling mixture on top of the pastry in the cake pan and spread it out evenly.
Make four little hollows and set one egg into each of them.
Place another sheet of pastry on top and brush with a beaten egg.
To make sure each slice reveals the yellow and white of an egg, you can score the top of the pastry lightly to guide your cuts. Cover with tinfoil.
With your gas burner on high, preheat your Ooni Karu 16. When the infrared thermometer shows 300°C, lower the flame to the minimum and put the pie in the oven. Cook for 40 minutes. During this stage, the temperature will fall, stabilising at 240°C.
After 20 minutes, turn the baking tray 180° to ensure an even bake. After 40 minutes, remove the tinfoil, then return the pie to the oven with the flame still on low for 6-7 minutes, turning the tray gently a few times to brown all edges.
Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
Cut into slices, revealing the whole eggs, then serve and enjoy.