An Italian invention, 'pascaulina' is traditionally made during Lent. This pie is lovely served with a green salad.
- 1 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) English spinach, trimmed and finely chopped
- 300 g (10½ oz) fresh ricotta
- 50 g (1¾ oz/½ cup) finely grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp pouring (single/light) cream
- 7 eggs
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
- 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- pinch of sea salt
- 150 g (5½ oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 3–4 tbsp iced water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Refrigeration time: 1 hour
1. To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a food processor. With the motor running, add the butter, one cube at a time, until completely incorporated and the mixture looks like ground almonds. Again with the motor running, add the egg yolk and iced water and process for just a few seconds, until the mixture starts to come together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan with a lid over high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes, until softened. Add the spinach and sauté for 2 minutes, then cover and cook for a further 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. Add the ricotta, parmesan, cream, two of the eggs and the nutmeg. Season well with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) flan (tart) tin with butter. Divide the dough in half, then roll out one half between two layers of baking paper to a 24 cm (9½ in) circle. Line the base of the flan tin with the pastry, firmly pressing it into the side and trimming any overhanging dough. Lay some baking paper over the dough and fill with baking weights, uncooked rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry. Set aside.
4. Roll out the second half of dough to a 24 cm (9½ in) circle. Spoon the spinach mixture into the flan tin. Make five evenly spaced egg-sized wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Lay the second dough circle on top and press the edges to seal, trimming any excess dough. Prick the top of the pastry with a fork and bake for 45–50 minutes, until the pastry top is golden. Allow the pie to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin. Cut into wedges and serve warm.
Recipe from The Food of Argentina by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz, Smith Street Books, RRP $44.99