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Torta Pasquelina

Torta Pasquelina

This is adapted from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen.  Probably serves 6.  Leftovers are wonderful.

“Torta pasquelina is a world-famous specialty of the Genoa region. The traditional pie (often taken on to be eaten cold on a family picnic on Easter Monday) was made with 33 layers of paper-thin dough (one layer for each year of Jesus’ life) encasing a rich filling made from a ricotta-like cheese, Parmesan, Swiss chard, and herbs, with eggs broken into depressions in the filling.  Modern cooks now use frozen phyllo pastry, and this vegan filling is rich with artichokes and mushrooms.  You should make this pie either a day or two ahead, or early in the morning, so that it has time to cool thoroughly– it is most delicious at room temperature.”

Preheat oven to 325.  Steam:

  • 1 lb. (about 1 bunch) Swiss chard or spinach, chopped and steamed OR two 10 oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out

Blend greens in large mixing bowl with:

  • 1 recipe Cashew Parmesan (optional)
  • 1 recipe Cashew Ricotta
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 t dried marjoram
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t EACH freshly-ground pepper and nutmeg

Optionally saute and add to “ricotta” filling:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 of a 14 oz. can artichokes in water, drained
  • 1/4 lb sliced fresh white or brown mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Oil a 9 inch springform pan with extra virgin olive oil.  Next you will need:

  • 1/2 lb. frozen phyllo pastry, thawed.  Filo Factory makes organic in unbleached, wholewheat and spelt varieties
  • extra virgin olive oil, either with a basting brush or in a spray can.  Misto makes a great reusable spray can, or a regular pump spray might work.

With scissors, cut the sheets of phyllo in half to make two stacks of rectangular sheets. Put one stack of half-sheets back in the package for another recipe.  Trim half of the remaining half-sheets into 9 inch rounds and set aside with a towel over them. Place one rectangular half-sheet in the pan, pressing the sheet gently against the sides and letting the corners overhang the pan. Apply oil to each successive sheet of phyllo before crisscrossing it over the last one, so that all sides of the pan are covered with pastry.  It takes a little fussing to get the sides to stay up – just do your best.

Separating the sheets can be very tricky.  Expect ripping and even shredding.  Don’t worry.  Be happy.  It will not matter.

Next put in the filling and smooth it down.  Fold the tabs of the bottom/side dough pieces on top of the filling and then place the round ones, oiling them one at a time as before, on top of everything.   Use lots of oil on the top piece.  (The picture above shows how I used to do it according to the original directions, where you put the top pieces on first and then fold over the tabs.)

Bake 1 hour, or until golden brown and crispy.  Cool on a rack about 15 min, then remove outer ring of pan.  When you are able to, use a spatula to transfer the torta from the pan base directly onto the cooling rack.

Serve at room temperature.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated for a day or two, though the phyllo will lose all crispiness; just bring to room temperature before serving. Cut into wedges to serve.

3 Responses to “Torta Pasquelina”

  1. […] was so proud of myself for pulling it off.  I have my notes from that meal, and I made Torta Pasquelina, Roasted Potatoes, Braided Sweet Potato Bread, and Cream of Leek and Asparagus Soup (both the […]

  2. […] made up some Phyllo Pockets with the rest of the phyllo dough from Torta Pasquelina.  I’m never going to bother with white phyllo dough again – it was so hard to work […]

  3. […] celebrated the last three Easters the way I began with my first deliberately vegan meal: Torta Pasquelina.  I had to make it away from home this year, but no worries.  I made the ricotta and parmesan […]

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