A year ago, I came across a recipe for torta pasqualina online. I thought the pie looked so beautiful when it was sliced; the crisp golden pastry enveloping the striking green spinach filling and whole eggs.
This pie’s attractive appearance is not the only interesting part. Torta pasqualina originates from Liguria, a region in northwest Italy situated along the seacoast. In Liguria, torta pasqualina is the traditional Easter dish. Here’s a fun fact: Pasquale is the Italian word for Easter, so the pie is literally called “Easter pie.” This pie 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 the pie was baked, twelve whole raw eggs were placed in the filling to represent the twelve apostles. I think it’s fascinating how this pie can hold so much symbolism of the Easter story!
To simplify things for this recipe, I’ve changed the pastry to rough puff pastry, which is a fast version of puff pastry. Plus, I’ve only done two layers of pastry: one on top and one on bottom. Since the pastry for this recipe is laminated, all the layers of puff pastry could count for the 33 layers, right? 😊
This is definitely one Italian recipe you need to include in your Easter menu this year. Your friends and family will be impressed with the creamy spinach filling and four whole cooked eggs inside!
Do you like this recipe? Here’s some other yummy recipes to round out your Easter meal!
Deviled Egg Chicks + Egg Peeling Secrets: painlessly peel a dozen eggs and make them into delicious deviled eggs.
Balsamic Roasted Carrots: these easy oven-roasted carrots are the perfect Easter side dish.
Easy Lemon Bars: creamy, tangy lemon filling on top of a buttery shortbread base.Print
Torta pasqualina is an Italian Easter pie packed with spinach, three cheeses, and whole eggs. It’s a stunning main dish for your Easter dinner. This vegetarian pie is made with rough puff pastry for a flaky, buttery finish. You need to put this pie on your Easter menu!
For the Filling
- 2 1/3 cups yellow onion, finely chopped (395g)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup spring onion, green and white parts, sliced (62g)
- 9 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed (255g)
- 1 cup fresh curly parsley sprigs, loosely packed (12g)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (227g)
- scant 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (50g)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (50g)
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 medium eggs
For the Pastry
- 1.3 lb rough puff pastry or puff pastry (600g)
- 1 large egg, beaten
Preparing the Filling (50 minutes)
- Finely chop the onions, then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft.
- While the onions are cooking, slice the green and white parts of about 5 spring onions to get 1 cup (62g). Add the spring onions to the pan and continue to saute until the yellow onions are golden. You might need to add an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Once the onions are cooked, spoon them into a large bowl and set aside.
- Tear off the sprigs from a handful of fresh parsley, trying not to have too much stem on each piece.
- Add the spinach and fresh parsley sprigs to the large frying pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the spinach liquid has fully evaporated and the parsley is 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 the mixture in your hand. Stir the squeezed greens into the onion mixture.
- Grate the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, then add them to the filling mixture along with the softened cream cheese. Blend the filling until it’s evenly mixed, then season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Assembling & Baking the Pie (20 minutes + 35 minutes baking + cooling)
- 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 1/3 of the chilled rough puff pastry for the pie’s top. Roll out the remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 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 pie. Make four large holes for the eggs, spacing them equally apart.
- Crack each of the 4 medium eggs, one by one, into a small bowl. Add the yolk and as much egg white as will fit into each cavity in the pie filling.
- Roll out the remaining pastry until it’s just big enough to cover the pie. Brush the edge of the pie pastry with beaten egg, then lay the top over it and press the edges to seal. Trim off the excess pastry and brush the whole pie with beaten egg. Cut a few small vent holes in the top and decorate with leftover pastry as desired.
- Bake 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 the pie on top of the rimmed cookie sheet.
- Let the pie cool for a minute in the pan, then remove and place on the serving plate. Allow the pie to stand for about 30 minutes before slicing to allow the eggs and filling to set.
- Traditionally, Italians most commonly use fresh Swiss chard instead of the frozen spinach. They’d also replace the sharp cheddar with additional Parmesan, and swap prescinsena or ricotta for the cream cheese.
- The authentic pastry used for torta pasqualina is similar to phyllo pastry, in that it consists of 33 very thinly rolled layers of pastry stacked on top of each other, each layer representing a year of Jesus’ life on Earth. I’ve used rough puff pastry instead of the traditional pastry in this recipe for ease.