Torta pasqualina, or Italian Easter pie, is so beautiful when it's sliced; the crisp golden pastry envelopes the striking green spinach filling and whole eggs. It’s a stunning main dish for your Easter dinner!
Torta pasqualina is an Italian Easter pie. It originally contained 33 layers of very thinly rolled pastry that were alternated with layers of the spinach filling, each pastry layer representing a year of Jesus' life on Earth. Before baking, twelve whole raw eggs were hidden inside to represent Jesus' twelve disciples.
Why This Recipe Works
- Avoid a soggy crust by squeezing out all the excess water from the spinach.
- Using puff pastry instead of the traditional phyllo pastry saves time and makes the assembly easier.
- Use small or medium eggs if possible; they will fit better inside the pie. If you want to fit 12 eggs inside, you'll need to use quail eggs.
Let's talk about the key ingredients for this torta pasqualina (Italian Easter pie). Although it takes a lot of ingredients, most of them are ones you probably already have in your fridge or pantry.
- Cheese: The choice of cheese varies throughout Italy and from family to family. The traditional choice is ricotta, while others prefer crescenza (stracchino), which is similar to cream cheese. Others also add Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or Parmesan. In the US, it's popular to make torta pasqualina with cream cheese. I used a mixture of cream cheese, extra sharp cheddar, and Parmesan.
- Spinach: I used frozen chopped spinach that was very well drained. You'll have to squeeze out as much water as possible to keep the pie from going soggy.
- Eggs: Use medium eggs (or even quail eggs) if you can find them, as they'll fit better inside the Easter pie. If not, large eggs will work fine.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Cheese: For a more authentic Italian version, use all ricotta or crescenza (stracchino) instead of the cream cheese, and add a blend of Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and/or Pecorino Romano instead of the cheddar and Parmesan.
- Greens: Using chopped Swiss chard is a popular choice in Italy rather than spinach.
- Eggs: Use the smallest eggs you can find, as they'll fit better in the pie. If you want to have 12 eggs inside, use quail's eggs.
- Pastry: The traditional pastry choice for torta pasqualina was 33 sheets of phyllo, but feel free to try puff pastry or shortcrust if you like.
How to Make
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the chopped onions and saute until softened.
- Add the green onions and continue to cook until golden.
3. Remove the onions from the pan, then add the spinach and parsley. Cook over medium heat until wilted and all the liquid has evaporated.
4. Dump the cooked greens into a mesh sieve and use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much water as possible. Then, squeeze handfuls of the mixture with your fist to extract every last bit of liquid. This is a crucial step to preventing a soggy pie later.
5. Stir together the sauteed onion mixture, the cooked greens, the cheeses, and the spices until well blended. Adjust the seasonings to taste as desired.
6. Roll out some puff pastry and use it to line a 9-inch tart pan. Spread the spinach filling inside.
7. Scoop out some of the filling to create four holes. Crack a medium-sized egg into each hole. (The scooped-out filling can be baked in leftover pastry to create a miniature pie.)
8. Cover the tart with the remaining pastry and press the edges to seal. Brush the entire pie with beaten egg.
9. Bake at 400°F for 35 minutes, until the pastry is a rich golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before serving to allow the filling to set.
10. Enjoy warm or at room temperature at an Easter brunch or dinner! This torta pasqualina is sure to be a hit.
This dish originates from Liguria, a region in northwest Italy situated along the seacoast. Torta pasqualina is a traditional Easter dish there.
Yes, you can make the Easter pie up to 3 days in advance. The pastry is the most crisp the same day that it is baked. It definitely makes for good leftovers!
Torta pasqualina means "Easter pie" in Italian, and it's pronounced TORE-tuh pask-wall-EE-nah.
Crusty bread, salad, or bruschetta would be nice accompaniments with this Easter pie, but you can also serve it along with other vegetarian or vegan main course dishes to round out the meal. Any special occasion dish would be nice with torta pasqualina.
There are a few delicious dishes that would taste good with torta pasqualina. If you know of any traditional dishes that are served with torta pasqualina, please leave a comment to let me know!
- Patate al Forno (roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary)
- Asparagi al Parmigiano (Parmesan-coated roasted asparagus)
- Bruschetta (toasted bread topped with tomato, basil, and mozzarella)
- Italian Tuna Salad
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Zuppa Toscana
Leftovers: Simply refrigerate this Easter pie tightly covered for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, or microwave individual slices for 30 seconds on 70% power.
Freezing: It's not recommended to freeze torta pasqualina because the egg whites don't have a nice texture when thawed.
Make Ahead: The spinach filling for this Easter pie can be made a few days in advance and kept in the fridge until you're ready to assemble and bake the torta.
- Adjust the seasonings to taste. Make it how you like it.
- Press out as much liquid as possible from the spinach; this will prevent a soggy Easter pie later.
- Use medium eggs, not large ones, as they will fit much better in the Easter pie filling.
- Put the Easter pie on top of a cookie sheet as it bakes to catch any liquid that seeps out.
- Let the torta pasqualina cool for 30 minutes before cutting to allow the filling to set.
Other Easter Recipes You'll Love
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Italian Easter Pie
For the Filling
- 2 ⅓ cups yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup spring onion, green and white parts, sliced
- 9 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 ½ cups fresh curly parsley sprigs, packed
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 medium eggs
For the Pastry
- 1.3 lb puff pastry
- 1 large egg, beaten
Making the Filling
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until soft, then add the sliced green onions and continue to cook until golden. Set aside.
- Add the spinach and fresh parsley to the frying pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has fully evaporated and the leaves are wilted.
- Put the spinach mixture in a large sieve and use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. To get the last of the liquid out, squeeze fistfuls of the mixture with your hands. This prevents a leaking, soggy pie, so don't skip this step.
- Mix the cooked onions and spinach together, then stir in the cream cheese, grated cheeses, and seasonings until well blended. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Baking the Pie
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a large, rimmed cookie sheet in the oven to preheat. Beat one large egg until well blended.
- Set aside about ⅓ of the pastry for the lid. Roll out the remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface to about ⅛ inch (3mm) thick, then use it to line a 9-inch, loose-bottomed tart pan. Trim off any excess pastry.
- Spread the filling evenly in the pastry, then make four large holes for the eggs, spacing them equally apart. You'll have extra filling that you can bake in a ramekin and enjoy separately. Then, crack an egg into each hole.
- Roll out the remaining pastry until it's just big enough to cover the pie. Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg, then lay the top over it and press the edges to seal. Trim off the excess pastry and brush the top with beaten egg. Cut a few small vent holes in the top and decorate with leftover pastry as desired.
- Bake the torta pasqualina at 400°F for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is well risen and a rich golden brown. Some liquid will seep out of the pan during cooking, so make sure to bake it on top of the rimmed cookie sheet.
- Let the torta pasqualina cool for a minute in the pan, then remove and place on the serving plate. Allow it to stand for about 30 minutes before slicing to allow the eggs and filling to set.
- Adjust the seasonings to taste. Make it how you like it.
- Press out as much liquid as possible from the spinach.
- Use medium eggs, not large ones, as they will fit much better in the filling.
- Put the torta pasqualina on top of a cookie sheet as it bakes to catch any liquid that seeps out.
- Let the Easter pie cool for 30 minutes before cutting to allow the filling to set.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.