This dish is a savory tart coming from Ligury, and its name means “Easter tart”, probably because it is made with chard, that can sometimes be harvested already in April (especially in a sunny region like Ligury), and because it’s full of eggs (really: “full”).
It is a food coming straight from an ancient and agricultural world, but is still be prepared nowadays in Ligury and, with some variations, in other areas of Italy, for many reasons; the main one is that it is a delicious, comfort food people always love to eat, other reasons are that it is satisfying, nourishing (it is rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats, but it also contains a lot of vegetables, so it’s “sense of guilt” free) and… portable. You can carry it with you everywhere and it still tastes great even if it stayed out of the fridge for hours. Just remember to put it in a rigid case, and you won’t even need a fork to eat it (but better if you bring it… and don’t forget the napkin)!
How to make torta pasqualina at home (from scratch)
For the pastry
500 g (17.6 Oz) wheat flour
2 spoonfuls extra-virgin olive oil
For the filling
1 kg (35.2 Oz) chard
1 golden onion
500 g (17.6 Oz) cottage cheese
100 g (3.52 Oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
50 g (1.76 Oz) butter
1 small bunch marjoram
Extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare the pastry with the fountain method, that is by pouring the flour on a pastry board in the shape of a volcano and by adding other ingredients in the hole at its top. Ingredients to add are: two spoonfuls of oil, a dash of salt and just the little water needed to obtain a smooth dough. Knead the mixture vigorously until it becomes more elastic and soft. It may requires some minutes and a lot of energy.
Once it’s ready, split the dough in two and let the two halves rest for one hour in two separated damp clothes.
In the meantime, prepare the filling, by washing, cutting and stewing chard with finely chopped onion in pan with a small amount of oil. Add a spoonful or two of water at a time if they tend to dry out and cook until they are tender. Let them cool down. Then, add two eggs (be sure vegetables are cold, or eggs will cook when in contact, and you need them still liquid), a dash of salt, pepper, nutmeg, chopped marjoram, grated Parmigiano and cottage cheese.
After one hour, take the dough and divide each part into six more parts. Melt the butter.
Roll each small part of pastry very thin and place one in a greased tray. The rolled dough should be large enough to brim over the tray. Gently brush melted butter on its surface, cover with another layer of rolled pastry and brush with butter this one, too. Do it four times more, so that you have six thin layers of buttered rolled pastry on the bottom of your tray.
Pour the filling on the pastry layers, level it carefully and arrange six not-too-deep small holes in it. Pay attention the holes don’t expose the pastry bottom of your tart. Break each egg on a different hole and let the yolk place in it, while albumen covers the surface of the filling.
Cover with the six remaining layers of pastry – don’t forget to butter them! -, and fold exceeding pastry in the tray, to form a two or three centimeters thick edge (don’t press it).
Butter the surface of the tart and bake it at 180°C (360°F) for about one hour. When the surface turns brown, it’s ready.