You can have this rich Easter pie any time of year

You can have this rich Easter pie any time of year
(Photos: NYTimes)
Eggs may be the most universal symbol of springtime on Easter tables around the world, but, in Italy, dishes made with ricotta are also a menu mainstay.اضافة اعلان

Serving them is a custom that dates back hundreds of years to the traditional rules of fasting for Lent, when all animal products (including dairy and eggs) were forbidden. After 40 days of abstinence, the return of ricotta-filled Easter pies, pastries, cakes, and breads to the table was in and of itself reason to rejoice.

Torta rustica is a savory ricotta pie especially beloved in Southern Italy. There are dozens of versions: some with chopped ham and salami; some with roasted peppers, other vegetables or herbs mixed into the filling. The crust varies, too, and can be a sturdy short crust, a yeasted bread or pizza dough, or an elegant, buttery puff pastry, either homemade or store-bought.

These days, torta rustica is baked all year long, not just during Easter. Sophie Minchilli, a Roman friend of mine who is the author of “The Sweetness of Doing Nothing,” recently texted me a photo of a party at which six different kinds of torta rustica were served, all with different fillings and crusts, all divine looking.


> Step 1: Make the dough: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms lima-bean-size pieces. Alternatively, mix together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, then add butter, working the pieces into the flour with your hands, squeezing and pinching them until the mixture looks like oatmeal.

> Step 2: Add egg, egg white, and lemon zest, and pulse after each addition. If working by hand, whisk together egg, egg white, and lemon zest in a separate bowl, then mix into the butter mixture. Slowly add iced wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix by hand until the dough just comes together. You may not need all the liquid. The dough should be moist, but not wet.

> Step 3: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gather and press it into a ball. Divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other, and shape into disks. Wrap the disks tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to five days.

> Step 4: When ready to bake, heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

> Step 5: Make the filling: If your ricotta seems watery, put it in a sieve and let it drain while you cook the spinach.

> Step 6: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and a large pinch of salt, and continue to cook until spinach is very dry, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl to cool. If any liquid accumulates as the spinach sits, pour it out of the bowl (you do not want it to water down the ricotta).

> Step 7: In a food processor, purée drained ricotta and eggs until just combined and smooth. Add to the bowl with the spinach and fold in mozzarella, pecorino, ham (if using), parsley, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red-pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Set aside when rolling out dough (or chill for up to 4 hours).

> Step 8: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger pastry dough disk to a 14-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch springform pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan. Scrape filling into crust and spread evenly. Roll out second pastry disk to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Cut 1/2-inch-wide strips and weave into a lattice on top of the filling. Seal, trim and crimp the edges. Brush the top of the torta with the egg wash.

> Step 9: torta on sheet pan and bake until crust is crisp and brown, and filling is firm, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before serving.

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