Easter Ricotta Pie is a delicious Italian tradition. While there are many, many variations, the sweet version, Pastiera is usually made with arborio rice, wheat berries or farro, like my Easter Ricotta Rice Pie with Raspberry Glaze. The savory ricotta version, Torta Pasqualina is often made with eggs and cooked greens, which I made for the first time ever this week.
For help, I turned to my favorite Italian cookbook resource (note: this is an affiliate link): The Silver Spoon, which is like a Fanny Farmer or Betty Crocker primer for Italian home cooks. Torta Pasqualina is similar to Greek spinach pie but with a fun twist. Whole eggs are cooked in the filling so when you cut a slice, you see what looks like hard boiled eggs in the center of the pie. My 5 year old thought this was super cool. My father, who is an engineer but not exactly competent in the kitchen, was actually baffled on how this was possible.
For this verision, I put on my dietitian hat (that would be my food loving dietitian hat!) and made some tweaks to reduce calories but keep the integrity (and the flavor) of the original dish. My changes:
- 8 eggs instead of 10. While that may still seem high, this pie serves 8 – 12 people and nowadays, the general rule of thumb is eating an egg a day is okay. (Plus, eggs are a wonderful source of protein and many other vitamins & minerals.)
- No pie crust on top which slashes a bunch of calories and saturated fat. Instead, I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese over the filling for a “crust” and extra layer of flavor.
- Fresh nutmeg & thyme added to amp up the flavor of the filling.
- Nix the heavy cream. The recipe called for 1 cup of cream and I was going to substitue in lowfat milk but I actually forgot to add the milk (oops!) but the pie still tasted wonderful without it.
Egg & Swiss Chard Italian Easter Pie
Adapted from The Silver Spoon’s Torta Pasqualina, Easter Ricotta Pie is a delicious Italian tradition.
- Yield: 8 - 12 servings 1x
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large bunch of Swiss chard (about 1 pound), rinsed and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 medium eggs
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 (9 ounce) pie crust
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add Swiss chard and sauté for 2 minutes, until starts to wilt. Mix in nutmeg, pepper & salt. Stir and sauté 8 – 10 more minutes, or until chard is completely wilted. Remove from heat and add to a colander. When slightly cooled, squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the chard. Place in a large bowl.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Stir 2 eggs, ricotta cheese, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and thyme into the Swiss chard, mix until completely incorporated. Mix in flour. Set aside.
- Roll out pie dough to fit into 9–inch pie pan. Place in pan and flute the edges. Spread half of the Swiss chard mixture over the pie dough.
- Hollow out 6 small oval areas in the Swiss chard mixture to place the cracked eggs. Carefully crack each of the 6 remaining eggs to fit into each hollow.
- Carefully spread the remaining Swiss chard mixture over top the eggs. Sprinkle remaining 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then check to see if the pie crust edges are getting brown. Cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to prevent from burning and cook for another 20 minutes or until the filling is completely set (about 45 minutes total.) Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
So, now that I’ve made both savory and sweet ricotta pies, I can’t decide which one I like more!
Have you ever made a savory pie like this? If you celebrate Easter, do you have a traditional dish you make for the holiday?