Before I share this year’s Easter recipe, I’d like to tell you about a charming Facebook page I discovered, “Readings from the Sacro Bosco”: https://www.facebook.com/ilsacrobosco
Please stop by and like this facebook page. The nuns who write it would greatly appreciate it.
Torta Salata Pasquale
One of my favorite Easter recipes comes from Rome, the Abruzzo, and the areas of central Italy. There are many versions of torta salata Pasquale, a savory tart. The Roman version is more of a bread; in Abruzzo it can be constructed as a two-crusted torta. It always has a filling of prosciutto or salami, often olives, and pecorino or caciocavallo cheese. It’s eaten on Easter morning or Pasquetta, the day after Easter, when Italians pack up a picnic and head outdoors. This year I’m making mine breadlike, more Roman than not, and I’ll include prosciutto cotto, mortadella, black olives, pecorino , and a hefty dose of white wine. Sounds like it would be quite heavy, but for an eggy bread it’s in fact surprisingly light.
Happy Easter to everyone.
You’ll need a ten-inch springform pan, lightly greased with olive oil.
Torta Salata Pasquale
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
A generous pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
A few big scrapings of nutmeg
1½ tablespoons baking powder
¾ cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Frascati or another dry white wine
6 large eggs
¾ cup small-diced prosciutto cotto
¾ cup small-diced mortadella
¾ cup pitted and roughly chopped black olives, such as Niçoise
¾ cup grated pecorino Toscano cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt, sugar, cayenne, black pepper, nutmeg, and baking powder. Stir everything around well to blend.
Mix the olive oil, wine, and a cup of water together in a small bowl, and then pour it over the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon to blend. The dough will be quite stiff at this point.
In another small bowl, whisk the eggs lightly, and slowly pour them into the flour mixture, mixing as you do, until they’re well incorporated (use an electric mixer if you like).
Add the prosciutto cotto, mortadella, olives, and pecorino, and mix briefly.
Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for about an hour, or until the bread puffs and the top is dark golden and springy. Let cool, and then loosen the springform. Serve at room temperature. In my experience this bread loses texture when refrigerated. Just cover it with plastic wrap to keep it moist. It will stay fresh for about five days.
(Dining with the Saints is written by Erica De Mane, a food writer specializing in Italian and Mediterranean cooking. For more of her recipes, please check out her blog at http://www.ericademane.com)