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in the kitchen with: annette joseph’s torta pasqualina

by Kristina Gill

It seems like only yesterday that I was in the kitchen preparing Tess Williams’ dried fig and chocolate hot cross buns and Trish Deseine’s white chocolate soup for an Easter double-feature. This year, I thought we’d go savory. Photostylist and producer Annette Joseph, who has the envious fortune of dividing her time between Atlanta and the Ligurian coast in Italy, has given us the quintessential Italian Easter dish, the torta pasqualina. This show-stopping double-crusted spinach tart is good any time of year, so if you’ve got other plans this Easter, don’t worry. — Kristina

About Annette: Annette Joseph is a photostylist and producer in Atlanta, Georgia. Highlights of her upcoming work this year include a cookbook, a reality show called All about Annette that traces her travels around the world as a stylist and producer and an appearance on the Today Show on June 30th to share great holiday entertaining ideas for July 4! Her Ligurian apartment can be seen here, and her recipe for a great Southern apple-pear cobbler is here.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Torta Pasqualina
Serves 6–8

For the Crust:


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 cups ice water

Make crust in a food processor. Put flour in the bowl and add oil and salt. Pulse until pebble-sized crumbs appear, and as you pulse, add water through the chute until dough comes together.

*Note: You may need to add a little more water to the dough — it should form a soft ball of dough. Set the dough aside and make the filling.

For the Filling:


  • 1/2 medium red onion sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs + 1 for egg wash


1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. In a large sauté pan, add olive oil. Slice the red onion into thin slices, sauté with the oil. Once the onions have become transparent, add the spinach. Add salt and pepper.

3. Sauté mixture until spinach is wilted, about 10 minutes. Cook off as much liquid in the pan as possible. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, combine cheeses, marjoram and 1 egg.

5. When the spinach mixture has cooled for about 10 minutes, squeeze excess liquid from the mixture and add to the cheese mixture. Combine well and set aside.

Assemble the pie:

1. Divide crust into two parts, put flour on a board and roll dough out to 1/4 inch disk. Place this disk into a 12” pie form or a ceramic pie dish. Make sure the edges of the dough overlap the side of the dish. Fill with the spinach mixture, smooth the top and make four indentations into the spinach mixture with a spoon. These indentations will hold the eggs. Crack an egg carefully into each indentation.

2. Roll out the remaining crust and place on top. Pinch all around the edges and finish with egg wash on top.

3. Bake in a 375ºF oven for 1 hour.

Why Annette Chose This Recipe
I am fascinated with the torte from this region of Italy. Liguria is a place where clever recipes are abundant. This recipe is no exception. Happy Easter, everyone. Celebrate with this torta!

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  • This looks amazing!!!

    Jane, a cup is probably about right – usually, 4 cups of flour requires about a cup of butter to make crust, and it looks like the oil is just a straight substitution.

  • I’d imagine a cup would be about right. It’s in lieu of the stick of butter that pastry crust recipes usually have, and it’s a double crust recipe, so…

  • Any suggestion as to how much a cup of spinach weighs? I’d have thought this recipe probably started out in grams if its italian in origin (of course it may have started out by eye!) so perhaps you already know having had to convert it for publication!

  • That reminds me of an AMAZING pizza we get at a local restaurant with ricotta, garlic, pancetta, spinach, lots of S&P, and finished with cracked eggs on top. It is to die for. Maybe I’ll try this and add a little pancetta.

  • Oh, Pasqualina! My Mom (daughter of foodie Italians) always makes it, but she adds peas and carrots to the spinach, which gives it a sweeter taste. It reminds me of my childhood, we would always fight for the eggs. Besos!

  • People should definitely try this but remember it’s northern Italian (as you say, Ligurian). There are many variations…

  • @jane @amywalters yes, Annette has confirmed what @k and @Abby have said– 1 cup of olive oil for 4 cups of flour is the right measure the make a wonderful double crusted pie!

    I hope you’ll try it and let us know how you like it!


  • *a quick note on the crust, this is a very tender crust, use plenty of flour when rolling it out into disks. Handle is carefully, it is very flavorful & has a great mouth feel after baking. I use this same crust to make an amazing heirloom tomato pie as well. enjoy!
    buon appetito!

  • wow this looks so amazing. i would love to attempt something like this once i get better in the kitchen!

  • I live in Uruguay where Pascualina is a VERY popular dish, I didn’t know it was Italian (but should have guessed as most spinach dishes are). I have my own recipe (and make it very often!) but it doesn’t include ricotta. I’m willing to try this one!

  • WOW!!! I made this yesterday to take to my family Easter Lunch/ Dinner. . EVERYONE loved it!. . . . I did add to it though: I added tiny crumbled broccoli in while sauteing the onions and spinach, and I also added in oven roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic. .. . . DELISH!

  • @rae – there’s no time like the present. If you don’t try, you’ll never get better. And even if it doesn’t look like the photos, who cares! The important thing is that you like the way it tastes!

  • We made this last night for dinner and it was delicious and easy to prepare – thanks for the veg friendly tummy pleaser!

  • MMM! This looks so delicious AND pretty on the plate! I will definitely have to try the recipe. Thanks!

  • you can absolutely make this dough in advance store in the fridge and pull it out for about a 1/2 hour to warm up before you roll it out, you can even freeze it and thaw and use!

  • So I made this, substituting fresh spinach for 1-2 cups frozen. Very nice with a tomato salad and balsamic vinaigrette. Thank you for the recipe!