Ricotta, Spinach and Egg Italian Easter Tart Recipe
Easter is coming and the goose is getting fat. Oh no, that’s Christmas, but never mind, the sentiment’s the same. We are having a standard family get together over Easter and I have been giving some thought to the food *always*. We will, I expect, go for a traditional leg of lamb on Easter Sunday, but it’s always interesting to try something new, and I have 10 hungry mouths to feed for 4 days. This Ricotta, Spinach and Egg Italian Easter Tart is a traditional seasonal affair and I can happily confirm it is not only interesting, it’s bloody divine.
This recipe came to me via the Guardian and Rachel Roddy, with thanks, and I have had my hungry eye on it for a while. This Italian pie is so good, I have fallen a bit in love with it. The pastry is made with plenty of butter and a large dollop of ricotta and it’s rich, firm and thank God, easy to roll out. The filling is more ricotta, a lot of spinach and some fragrant parmesan and nutmeg. This then encases four eggs and the whole beautiful creation is baked until golden. I have, in my humble and slightly immodest opinion, never tasted such delicious pastry. It’s soft, buttery but still crisp and wonderful. The filling is cheesy, fragrant and feels wholesome with all that spinach. This is an Easter treat of the highest order. The pie would be wonderful for your family lunch, a picnic out in the drizzle or make it your festive centrepiece; vegetarians and carnivores alike will be beyond thrilled to be served an enormous wedge of this Ricotta, Spinach and Egg Tart.
The Italians know a thing or two about food and they have really hit the spot with this pastry based dish. It’s a total masterpiece and its construction won’t keep you away from the chocolate eggs for too long, which is a total gift with purchase.
Not a huge line up for this amazing tart. The pastry is easy to make, you don’t even need a food processor, and the filling is simple. The end result, however, will look as if you’ve spent 3 days in the kitchen.
So, start on this elegant tart by buttering your 26cm chosen pie dish. Then on with the pastry making. Take a bowl, or you could use your food processor if you like, and add the plain flour and butter. Rub the two together using light fingers until your mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Then add a pinch of salt.
Next, tip in 200g of your ricotta and lightly mix in using your hands until you have a soft dough. Turn this out onto your floured board or work surface.
Gently knead for a minute or two to bring the whole lot together. This a brilliant pastry, not too soft, and really easy to handle. Wrap it in cling film and pop into the fridge for around 3o minutes whilst you crack on with the filling *no egg pun intended*.
For the filling, start with the spinach as it will take a while to cool. Wash it and remove any woody stalks if need be, then add the whole lot to the pan. Btw, it will be full, but will wilt down to sod all.
Add a tiny splash of water then put the lid on and allow the spinach to wilt down for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Tip your spinach into a colander and leave to drain and cool right down.
Once the spinach is cool, using your hands, squeeze and squeeze it until most of the liquid has come out. Then roughly chop the spinach.
Take a large bowl and mix together the grated parmesan, ricotta, 2 eggs, a good grating of nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
Stir in the chopped spinach and stir well. At this point, pre heat your oven to 160 degrees fan assisted and place a large baking tray in the oven to heat up.
Now, get your pastry out of the fridge and cut off one third and pop to one side for the top of your tart. Roll out the large piece of pastry into a large circle which fits your pie dish with plenty of overhang. Carefully place over your pie dish. Press into the dish and leave the excess hanging over the edges.
Fill your pastry case with the spinach ricotta filing. Then make four recesses for your eggs with a spoon. Crack one egg into each hole.
Roll out your smaller piece of pastry into a circle to fit over the top of your tart. Fold the overhang of pastry in and pinch the edges together to seal the tart.
Make two slits into the middle of the pie to release any steam then brush with beaten egg or milk to glaze.
Place your assembled pie onto the pre heated baking tray then place in your hot oven for 50 minutes. The cooked tart will be golden, piping hot and smelling quite divine.
Serve this traditional Italian dish hot, warm or at room temperature. With some salad, green vegetables, or just a large glass of white wine.
This really is a stroke of Italian, vegetarian genius. The pastry is buttery, full flavoured and crisp. The filling is cheesy and houses 4 beautiful eggs. Your Easter table is just the place to showcase this tart, or if the weather perks up in the next two weeks *unlikely but we can but dream* wrap it in baking paper and take with you on a family picnic with a nice chilled bottle of fizz.
Ricotta, Spinach and Egg Italian Easter Tart Recipe
Serves at 6 to 8
You will not need any exciting equipment, just a 26cm buttered pie dish
160g cold butter, chopped
250g plain flour
Salt and black pepper
600g spinach, washed and any woody stalks removed
6 eggs, 2 for the filling then 4 for tart
80g parmesan, grated
A good grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 egg beaten for glazing or use milk if you’d rather
Make a start by buttering your chosen pie dish.
For the pastry, take a large bowl or your food processor and rub the butter into your plain flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt then mix in the ricotta using your hands until you have a soft dough. Turn the pastry onto a floured board and knead gently for a minute until you have a soft ball. Wrap in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take a large saucepan and add the spinach along with a splash of water. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or so until wilted, stirring occasionally. Tip into a colander and leave to cool and drain. Once the spinach has cooled squeeze until most of the liquid has come out then roughly chop.
For the filling take a large bowl and add the grated parmesan, ricotta, 2 eggs, nutmeg and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well then add the cooled chopped spinach and stir again. Pop this to one side while you roll out the pastry.
Pre heat your oven to 160 degrees fan assisted and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up. Unwrap the pastry and cut off one third and put to one side. Take the other piece and roll out into a large circle, big enough to fit the pie dish with plenty of overhang. Place over the dish and press into the edges leaving the excess pastry hanging over the sides. Roll out the second piece into a circle the same size as the pie dish for the top of the tart.
Fill the pastry case with the ricotta filling then make 4 indents into the mixture with a spoon for the eggs. Crack one egg into each recess then lay the circle of pastry over the top and lightly press down. Crimp the overhanging pastry and the top of the tart to seal it then make two small cuts in the centre of the pie. Brush with beaten egg.
Place your pie dish onto the pre heated baking tray and cook for 50 minutes. Your finished pie will be golden brown, firm and smelling amazing. Leave to cool and serve just hot or at room temperature.