Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter fun

On the Facebook Foodies group I belong to we eagerly discussed what we were thinking of cooking for Easter weekend. There were traditional dinners and non-traditional, for families or couples and even one person who cooks for a nursing home. This last person, Doug, posted a link to a recipe called Tarta pascualina which is a spinach and egg pie traditionally eaten during Lent. The photo was so beautiful and looked so delicious I printed out the recipe. Here's the link from Hispanic Kitchen http://www.hispanickitchen.com/profiles/blogs/tarta-pascualina-easter-pie. It comes to us from Italy via South Ameica.

I get lovely eggs every week from my colleague, Don's farm in Sebastopol. Part of the appeal of this recipe to me was the photo showing a hard boiled egg in the pie, so cool! And I had the perfect eggs!

Tarta Pascualina my way

1 red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled, cored and pressed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-10 ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach, defrost, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
small fluffy handful of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
6 eggs (4 for the top of the pie, one for the filling, and one for the egg wash)
2 artichoke hearts, chopped
freshly ground nutmeg to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red chiles
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pie crusts

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a deep 9" springform pan with vegetable spray.

In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion for several minutes and add the garlic to the skillet, continue cooking until translucent. Remove from the heat, and allow the onion and garlic to cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts, nutmeg, chiles, salt, and pepper. Taste the mixture and season to taste. Add 1 egg to the mixture and mix well. Carefully line the bottom of the pan with one of the pie crusts. Spoon the filling into the tart pan.

Smooth the top of the filling, and make four deep, evenly spaced wells in the filling. Crack an egg into each hole, if it looks too full hold back some of the white of the egg. Cover the filling with the second pie crust, and seal the crust by crimping the edges together. Vent the crust in the center with a sharp knife making a "X", and then brush the crust with a beaten egg for color and shine. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown and the filling has set. Allow the pie to cool before serving.

This dish was as beautiful as it was delicious. Mike said that part of the reason it was so good was the crust. I used the Fearless Baker pie crust recipe and left out the sugar. Here's the recipe.

Basic Pie Dough

2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of kosher salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
~5 teaspoons cold water, I fill a small bowl with water and some ice and ladle tablespoons as needed

Place flour, salt and butter cubes in food processor bowl. Pressing the pulse button quickly, pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of small peas. It happens quickly so don't overmix. Add the 5 tablespoons of cold water and pulse just until the dough is crumbly. Stop pulsing and squeeze the dough gently to see if it comes together without being dry. Add more water if still dry. Do not process to the point where it forms a ball.

Dump the dough out and form into 2 balls, 1 larger than the other. Flatten into disks but do not over handle them. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour or if in a hurry, in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Let the dough warm up slightly to roll it out.

Roll out each disk on a generously floured surface. Roll out until larger than your pan, using the larger disk for the bottom of the pie and reserving the smaller one for the top of the pie. Try to roll it evenly thick and round. Fold the disk into fourths to transfer to the pan.

This was a delicious vegetarian dish and would be great for a brunch or supper any time of the year. Enjoy!

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