It’s already been two weeks since Easter, and now it looks like too late to still talk about it. However, learning how to make an Italian Easter pie could be good for the next year!
Easter is one of the biggest holidays in Italy. In Italian Easter is Pasqua and the Italian Easter pie is called torta pasqualina. A traditional Easter pie consists of 33 (as the age of Jesus Christ) very thin layers and is filled with ricotta and either chard or artichoke. My mini Italian Easter pie, however, was made with only 4 layers and was baked in a souffle dish instead of a pie pan. That’s because I wanted to serve it as an individual dish to my guests with no leftovers eventually! I have made this mini pie in several ways. For example, I have tried both frozen and fresh spinach (it did not matter so much, even though fresh ingredients are always my favorite choice), regular eggs and quail eggs (regular ones were visually more appealing on the top of the pie) and different amounts of ingredients such as ricotta, marjoram, and so on. I will show the recipe which gave the best result. Let’s look at the main ingredients!
- 300 g organic all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus some for the spinach)
- 1 teaspoon salt for the dough (plus some for the fillings)
- 130-150 ml water
- 2 eggs (1 for each filling)
- 2 yolks (1 on top of each pie)
- 250 g fresh spinach
- 1/2 small onion
- 6 tablespoons grated parmesan (3 for each filling, some extra to sprinkle)
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh marjoram (2-3 for each filling)
- 200 g ricotta
- a pinch of nutmeg
- Pie dough
Some alternatives to homemade pie sheet are puff pastry and phyllo dough.
Frozen spinach is fine. If so, you will need 300 g (10.5 oz).
- Pie dish
I used two 11 by 6 cm (8 oz) souffle dishes.
Part 1. Pie dough
- In a medium bowl, add flour, olive oil, salt and water (add 1/2 of water first and then a little at a time until you cannot see any more flour). Knead for about 10 minutes to form a smooth and soft dough.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces and round each piece into a small dough ball (here is a tip how to round a dough ball). Place the dough balls on a plate and cover it with a plastic wrap or a slightly wet towel.
- Let them rest for about an hour (in the meantime you can prepare the spinach and ricotta filling).
Part 2. Spinach and ricotta filling
- Clean the spinach and blanch it in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze and chop the spinach.
- Heat some olive oil in a medium pan over low heat and add chopped onion. After the chopped onion turns transparent, add the chopped spinach and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Cool down for a couple of minutes. In a bowl, add the spinach, chopped fresh marjoram, parmesan and 1 whole egg. Mix well and set aside.
- In another bowl, thoroughly mix ricotta, salt, 1 whole egg, nutmeg, chopped marjoram and the remaining parmesan. Set aside as well.
Part 3. Putting all together
- Take 2 small dough balls and roll them out as thinly as possible. Measure each sheet so that, once laid to the inner surface of the souffle dish, it can be folded along the rim for 2 cm (3/4 inch).
- Slightly brush the souffle dish with olive oil. Lay the first sheet and brush it gently with olive oil. Then lay the second sheet and also brush it gently with olive oil.
- Layer the spinach and ricotta filling in the dish. Make a small puddle in the middle and put one egg yolk. Sprinkle parmesan on top.
- Take other 2 small dough balls and roll them out again. Cover the pie with the third sheet and brush with olive oil. Repeat the same for the fourth sheet.
- Trim the excess sheets around the edge with kitchen scissors except for the first sheet (the outer most one in this picture). Fold the first sheet over the top and gently press down the edges of the sheets all together so then they can be tightly sealed. Crimp the edge by your finger as you would for an apple pie.
- Cut out your favorite shape from the excess sheet and put it on top of the pie with some water to stick them together. Brush the top surface with olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Start over again for the second pie.
- Bake the pies for about 50 minutes or until the top sheet turns golden brown.
- Let them cool down for at least an hour, so then you can cut them easily as the pie sheets become more crispy.
Here are the mini Italian Easter Pies! They will be a great first course for lunch or even the main course of a light dinner!
If you liked this recipe, you might also be interested in how to make Italian bread.