Easter cheese and spinach pie

Easter cheese and spinach pie

Torta pasqualina

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Serves
6

This savoury pie from Italy was originally made with 33 sheets of pastry, one for each year of Our Lord’s life. As the pastry had to be made by hand, it could take the cook all morning just to mix and roll it. Today, we use less pastry in line with a lighter approach to food, and packaged filo makes the job even easier.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
12 sheets filo pastry
90g butter, melted

Filling

Quantity Ingredient
1 large bunch silverbeet
or 2 bunches english spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
500g ricotta cheese
125ml cream or evaporated milk
30g butter
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
75g parmesan, grated
salt

Method

  1. To make filling, cut stalks from silverbeet or spinach, rinse leaves well and steam until tender. Drain and chop finely by hand or in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Press in a sieve to remove any remaining moisture.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan and gently fry onion until soft but not brown. Add silverbeet or spinach and stir together for 1–2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Mash ricotta in a bowl and stir in cream or evaporated milk and a pinch of salt.
  4. Line a greased 23–25 cm pie dish with 6 sheets of filo pastry, brushing each with melted butter. The filo will stay pliable as you work if you place it between 2 dry dish towels with a dampened dish towel on top.
  5. Spread sixth layer of pastry with spinach mixture and spoon ricotta over top. Make 6 hollows in ricotta and put a little knob of butter in each. Break an egg into each hollow and season with salt, pepper and marjoram. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over all.
  6. Cover filling with remaining sheets of filo, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Press edges firmly together and trim excess pastry. Prick top layer of filo with a fork and brush generously with butter.
  7. Bake pie in a preheated hot oven (200°C) for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.
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