With Easter weekend approaching, look no further than this deliciously flaky filo pie from Olivia Cavalli’s Stagioni for an instant crowd-pleaser.
A traditional Easter pie from Liguria that can be traced back to the 1500s. It’s said that families without ovens would take their torta to their local bakery to cook, carving their initials into the crust to honour the head of the household and to make sure they took the right one home on Easter Sunday. Many old recipes call for a hand-made oil-and-water pastry, rolled exceedingly thin, making 33 sheets to symbolize the years of Christ’s life. I buy a roll of filo for time and sanity’s sake.
Here, eggs come as a lovely surprise – sunny yolks peeking through as you take a slice. If you’re not into well-cooked eggs (I know many feel strongly about this), leave them out, or stir through cooked artichokes or peas instead.
500g/1lb 2oz whole milk ricotta about 550g/1lb 4oz chard, spinach, or a combination 160g/5¾oz Parmesan, finely grated, or a combination of Parmesan and aged pecorino 5 medium eggs
Olive oil or melted butter, for brushing
1 pack filo pastry, about 270g/9¾oz
If your ricotta seems a little watery, drain it for 30 minutes in a sieve set over a bowl. You may not need to do this with higher-quality ricotta.
Rip off and discard any tough stems from the greens, then rinse them of any grit – no need to dry them; the water helps them cook. Either divide the greens across 2 large pans and allow to wilt, stirring occasionally, over a medium heat, or blanch them briefly in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two, just until wilted, then refresh under cold water.
Transfer the greens to a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible, then chop finely. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta with the greens, Parmesan and 1 egg. Add a few gratings of nutmeg and season with salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 190°C fan and brush a deep 23cm/9in springform tin with olive oil or melted butter.
Layer sheets of filo over your tin, letting them settle so they cover the base and drape over the sides, brushing each sheet with oil or butter as you layer them. Reserve 1 sheet for the top.
Spoon the ricotta mixture into the pastry, level out with the back of a spoon, then use the spoon to create 4 small hollows in the filling. Crack the remaining 4 eggs into the holes and season the yolks. Dot a little butter or oil onto each egg. Fold the overhanging pastry over the top and use the remaining sheet, if needed, to cover any gaps. Brush more oil or butter over the top.
Cook for 40 minutes until golden on top, then cover with a sheet of baking paper. Cook for a further 20–30 minutes, then leave to cool slightly before slicing and serving. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for around 5 days and eaten cold, or gently reheated.