Torta Pasqualina, or Italian Easter Pie is a traditional Ligurian recipe made each year to celebrate the Easter holiday. It is said that this pie should have 33 three layers in the crust to celebrate the number of years that Jesus spent on Earth, but generally most recipes contain 20-25 layers. Although it is time consuming to roll out each layer thin enough, you can substitute layers of phyllo pastry, which are readily available at most groceries.
Serves 6 to 8
by Deborah Mele
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Dash Of Salt
2 Pounds Spinach or Swiss Chard
3 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Milk
Salt & Pepper
1 Pound Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
1 Cup Cubed Ham
To make the dough, put the flour on a clean surface into a mound. Add the salt, oil and enough water to make a smooth dough, about 1 cup. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, and let rest for 1 hour, covered with a damp towel.
While the dough is resting, begin to prepare the filling by cooking the spinach in a large pot. Drain, squeeze dry and chop. Season with salt and pepper. Soak the bread crumbs in the milk, and then squeeze dry. Add the crumbs to the spinach in a bowl, and add the ricotta, parmesan and cubed ham. Mix well. Beat two eggs, and fold into the spinach ricotta mixture. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball dough thinly, into an 11-12 inch circle. Brush a 10 inch baking dish, or spring form pan with a little oil, and drape the first sheet of pastry over the pan, allowing an equal amount to overlap the rim. Brush with oil, and continue to roll out another 5 layers, brushing oil between each layer. Put the filling into the pie pan, smoothing it evenly. Make four hollows evenly spaced around the filling, and carefully crack the eggs into the hollows.
Roll out the remaining balls of dough, brushing with oil between each. Roll and press the edges inward. Brush the top with oil, and prick the top carefully, being careful not top pierce the eggs. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown. Serve warm, or at room temperature.