Tag Archives: italian

Classic Italian Recipe: Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina 4 Torta Pasqualina 5

A few years ago, when DesignSponge was *the* blog, I contributed a unique classic Italian recipe: the torta pasqualina. This recipe comes from the Liguria region. It will remind you of a decadent quiche. Let me know if you give it a try for Easter.

Torta Pasqualina
Serves 6–8

For the Crust:

You will need:
– 4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup olive oil
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 3/4 cups ice water

To prepare:
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:

You will need:
– 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

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

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.

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.

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

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:

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.

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

Bake in a 375ºF oven for 1 hour.

xx Annette

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Pienza, Tuscany quick fix


statue Tree Last week we briefly ventured deep into the heart of Tuscany. About 4.5 hours south of our house, it’s a tiny bit of heaven as most Americans know. I rarely make this trip, truly about once every 5 years, but I could not resist since it’s the week of Palio which is honestly one of my fave events in Siena, about an hours drive from Pienza. Pienza is one of the few planned communities in Italy. Read about it here.

An early morning stroll to grab an espresso provided me with the fuel I needed to explore the town. To be honest, without a proper espresso in the morning, I am useless. I admit that I have an addiction, but that’s the first step right? Admitting it? So after 2 shots I was in business.

We strolled the deserted streets, a treat since Tuscany this time of year is jammed with tourists and one can hardly move. Avoid Florence starting in July- August. I always tell friends Florence is perfect in the fall. Admiring the Tuscan vignettes along the way, our morning walk proved visually beautiful as only Tuscany can be.



Needless to say, I am in love with the food stuffs here mainly the salamis and breads. Not to mention that Pienza is home to Percorino cheese. How could I go wrong? Buying a hefty supply to bring back to the Riviera made the drive worthwhile. Read about Pecorino here.

If you have a chance, put Pienza on your list, and make sure to make it an early morning adventure before the crowds dominate the city.

Tuscany is so Tuscany-ish. It never disappoints. xx


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Cookbook 13: Silver Spoon

The Silver Spoon came on the market about 7 years ago. It claimed to be the Italian “Joy of Cooking,” a basic in every Italian cucina for 100 years. However, I later learned that this was not true, in fact there were many other go to classic cookbooks before this one in Italy for the new bride. The claim that The Silver Spoon was the translated version of the only classic was merely a clever marketing ploy. Pretty genius idea, huh? Everyone had to own this Italian classic. With all that said it really is a great cookbook, it even teaches you how to butcher meat ” Italian ” style. I also think it’s kind of cool that the illustrations are typical of Italian style preparation. This is a great go to Italian cookbook, well priced and chocked full of useful information, even if it was highly marketed, it deserves the hype.

Here’s a lovely classic recipe from the cookbook:

Milanese Minestrone


  • 40g / 11/2 oz lardoons or pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 celery stick
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, chopped
  • 2 courgettes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g / 7 oz (1 ¾ cups) shelled peas
  • 1/2 Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 100g / 31/2 oz (3/4 cup) fresh shelled borlotti beans
  • 100g / 31/2 oz (1/2 cup) long-grain rice
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to serve


  • Finely chop the lardons with the garlic and onion. When the mixture is quite fine, add the parsley and celery and chop.
  • Put the mixture into a saucepan, add the tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, courgettes and oil and pour in 2 litres / 3 ½ pints water.
  • Season with salt and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and cook for at least 2 hours.
  • Add the peas, beans and cabbage, simmer for 15 minutes, then add the rice and simmer, stirring occasionally, for a further 18 minutes until it is tender.
  • Stir in the herbs, ladle into a soup tureen and serve with plenty of Parmesan.

    *note: This minestrone should be fairly thick. It is excellent hot, but it is also good served warm or cold in the summer.

    buy the silver spoon here

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