Normally, I am pretty serious about our Easter traditions – I bake a lamb cake, colour eggs with the kids and make at least one dish featuring wild greens. But this year we were so busy planting the 80 + fruit trees and bushes in our new garden that Easter came and went and the only Easter-y thing we did was hastily colouring 4 geese eggs that Remco brought home. (His colleague’s brother’s wife keeps duck and geese and occasionally sells us some eggs – they are huge!).
This recipe then is me making up for lost time. But even though this torta with greens and eggs would be perfect for an Easter brunch, it does not mean you cannot make it, you know, now. Anyway, since Easter was so early this year and our spring has been pretty cold so far, wild greens are only now beginning to be abundant enough to pick in significant quantities.
In the afternoon, between the showers, I strolled through my backyard and picked vibrant dandelion greens which I let self-sow strategically. The garden in April is the loveliest thing and it made me so happy to harvest something bursting with the vitality of spring and bring it to the table. Next time, I think I will use nettles instead of the spinach, since there is a nice big patch of them coming up in the new garden.
Side note: Esther is on a school trip in Rome touring forums and colosseums this week. When she gets back, I expect a full report on all the food she ate and also whether she saw a similar torta anywhere since it is supposed to be an Italian recipe from Rome?
Dandelion and spinach springtime torta
Adapted from BBC food
110 g (4 oz) dandelion greens (or rocket)
200 g ( 7 oz) spinach (or chard or nettles)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500 g (1 pound) ricotta
50 g (2 oz) parmesan grated
salt & pepper
450 g (1 pound) puff pastry
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F).
Butter and flour a springform baking pan of 25 cm (10 inches) diameter.
Boil 4 of the eggs for 10 minutes, cool them in cold water and peel. Set aside.
Heat a large pan, add the spinach and dandelion greens, cover and let steam until wilted – about 4 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander and press out excess water with a wooden spoon. Let cool and chop roughly. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and fry gently until soft. Set aside and let cool. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta and grated parmesan. Beat the remaining egg lightly and set aside about 2 tablespoons. Add the rest of the beaten egg to the ricotta. Stir in the greens and onion and season with salt and pepper.
Roll out a little more than half of the puff pastry to half a centimetre (1/4 inch) thick and use it to line the baking pan. Spread the filling over the pastry and put halved eggs on top, cut side down. Roll out the remaining pastry and use it to cover the filling. Seal the edges well and brush the top with the reserves beaten egg. Cut a small cross in the middle to let out steam. Bake 35- 40 minutes, until the top is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting in wedges.
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