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April 17, 2014 1:27 pm
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Easter, so often construed in culinary terms to be about lamb, is really about eggs. We make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up any eggs we have left over. Come spring and the Easter festival, the hens start laying and we are allowed to eat eggs again: whether in chocolate or in paint, in hunts or in egg fights, Easter has always been the celebration of that potent symbol of rebirth. And yet, although they are absolutely central to the idea of Easter, there are not so many dishes that feature eggs.
Enter, stage right, the Torta Pasqualina. It’s full of them, some beaten into the mixture and some cooked whole in the pie. It is the eggs that make the Torta so exceptional. It is from Genoa, the first Italian city that I ever encountered, a city that is the least attractive, the most mercantile and endowed with the poorest cultural heritage and yet has a vitality and energy that other cities sometimes lack. It was a Genovese who discovered America and probably another one who discovered a cheese and spinach pie somewhere around the Aegean and brought the idea back home, to be transformed into a classic symbol of Easter.
I had fun making this. I have to admit that it took time, probably the best part of two hours, but I am not a believer that everything should be quick and easy. It should be remembered that the pride one gets from making something is usually in direct proportion to the effort that went into it. Traditionally, this dish is made over the weekend and then taken on a picnic on Easter Monday. Which seems like a good idea to me.
Rowley Leigh is the chef at Le Café Anglais
|350ml||very cold water|
|1 large bunch||Swiss chard|
Best eaten the day it is cooked, cool but not chilled. It can certainly be prepared a day in advance.
Rowley’s drinking choice
Tradition says go with Vermentino, Liguria’s favourite grape. Seems as good an idea as any, but I always think a light and fruity red accompanies eggs just as well.
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