When you drive to teach a cookery course your mind is focused on the goal, you go over again your recipes, you rethink your makeup clothes and hair. Hopefully you have tucked into the car tank all the necessary ingredients and above all you did not forget any essential tool. Like, have you ever made a Florentine arista without a butchers’ twine to tie the meat? No? Well, don’t do that.
When you have a goal to reach, you are focused on the road, you hope not to meet a hitch, you don’t want to lose yourself, you cannot. Every obstacle, a tractor in the countryside, a level crossing, a wrong turn, takes you away from reaching your goal. You have to respect schedules and commitments already fixed.
Coming back home is different. You can often afford to look around yourself, you can enjoy the view. There’s a specific moment that charms me every time, those few minutes before dark, when the sky fades into the blue of the evening. You are in the car alone with your thoughts, you turn on the radio and search for a song to bring you home from station to station, to sing out loud even if you’re out of tune. I always find myself looking at the silhouette of the trees that stand out against the pale sky, you think about your day, you foretaste the feeling of dropping all your bags at the first step into your house.
In this moment I am usually taken by a strange feeling, a sense of calmness due to have done what I was supposed to do. This is the time for me, the time to be back home .
Having a slice of Torta Pasqualina, my mum’s spinach and ricotta pie, is just like coming back home. One bite and I find myself in the kitchen, usually on a Sunday evening. The checkered tablecloth is already covered with crumbs of pastry, there’s buttery scent in the air and in your mouth the soft filling of spinach and ricotta with the subtle smell of nutmeg, almost imperceptible and yet indispensable.
This pie has been our Sunday dinner for years. You had to pull out of the freezer the frozen puff pastry in the morning, woe to forget, then mum played by ear with the ingredients, guided by habit and colour, as you have to reach that exact hue of green given by a well balanced mix of dark green spinach and milky white ricotta. I did the same, following a memory rather than a recipe.
This is not the classic Torta Pasqualina, a Ligurian spinach and ricotta pie made during Easter time, this is my mum’s version, so do not look here for a coded tradition, it is rather a quick and filling recipe to add to your weekly menu plan.
- 500 g of boiled and squeezed spinach
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 250 g of ricotta cheese
- 5 eggs
- 4 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 rolls of round puff pastry sheet, about 250 g each
- Chop the spinach coarsely with a knife and quickly fry in a pan with a clove of garlic and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the spinach in a bowl, add the ricotta, the grated Parmigiano, a lightly beaten egg and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Preheat oven to 190°C.
- Line with baking paper a 26 cm round pan, slightly stretch the puff pastry with a rolling pin on a floured surface to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Spoon the spinach and ricotta filling inside the baking pan. Use the back of a spoon to make 3 small holes in the filling and break an egg into each little hole.
- Stretch out the other puff pastry sheet and cover the pie. Seal the edges and carve out the centre of puff pastry in the center to allow steam to escape during cooking .
- Brush the top with a beaten egg and bake the pie for about 50 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or warm. If you have leftover, you can have them cold or slightly warmed up in the oven.
In these days of intense work, when I have to give my best to comply with the book deadlines, I discovered the pleasure of doing something else, someone could also define it digress. It’s my relief valve to keep the concentration high.
You already know about my adventures with sourdough, add the Easter Newsletter, some spring cleaning and the crave for kneading by hand home made puff pastry, which I used to make this Easter pie. I’ve made two and a half kilos of pastry, as when you’re making it it’s good rule to male at least a ton, so you can freeze small parcels of puff pastry to use when needed.
- A traditional recipe for Torta Pasqualina from Snaidero blog: Celebrate Easter Italian-style with Torta Pasqualina and big Chocolate Eggs
- Here you can find step by step photos and another traditional recipe: torta pasqualina by Terry Peperoni e Patate.
- Another good example by Citrus and Candy, Torta Pasqualina, Traditional Italian Easter ‘Cake’
- Annette’s Torta Pasqualina for Design*Sponge