Today is Good Friday and so for dinner, I needed to find something meatless. I definitely have more meatless days than I consciously intend, but it seems when I NEED to find something meatless, I draw a blank. Today’s Easter adventure takes me to Italy and a meatless ricotta pie, and that will do just fine, methinks.
Torta Pasqualina, or “Easter cake,” is a traditional dish from Piemonte and Lingura. There are many variations on it- some sweeter, some more savory, some with ham, some without, but the two distinguishing features common to all are 1) the whole cracked eggs baked atop of the spinach and 2) the multiple layers of flaky dough, almost baklava-style. It was actually thought in the past to be the ‘ apotheosis of the ability of housewives,’ and legend has it that someone, somewhere managed to stack up to thirty sheets in homage to the years of Christ. An impressive feat indeed.
Making a whole pie seemed like a wasteful effort for one, so I sort of improvised and made more like “torta pasqualina pot pies.” I also pulled the lazy card and used store bought pie crust, and therefore only had one layer, rather than 30. A happenin’ girl can’t spend all her time in the kitchen, now can she. Plus, the filling keeps well, so I can make a fresh pie each serving. And everything is cuter as a serving for one, don’t you think? Mini-food!
Makes 4 mini-pots or one large pie
1 pound low-fat ricotta
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pound Swiss chard, rid of the tough stems
1 TB chopped garlic
Juice of one lemon
Sprinkle of nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
One store-bought pie crust, cut into circles the size of your ramekins
1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once it’s rolling, add some salt and the chard, and boil 5-7 minutes until tender. Drain.
2. Dry out the pot. Heat some oil and add the chard, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until the garlic is cooked, about 5 minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, one egg, lemon, nutmeg and parmesan. Add the chard.
4. Divide the mixture up between four ramekins and make a mini-well in the chard. Crack an egg into each.
5. Place a round of pie crust over each ramekin like you would for a pot pie. Poke a few holes in it to avoid any bubbling over.
6. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the pie crust is golden brown.
7. Dig in!
This was delicious and really easy to make. Next time I need a meat-free option, I won’t be wreaking my brain as hard. Mangia!!