The Canteen is Southwold’s newest cafe/restaurant which forms part of the former hospital. The Canteen brings beautiful dishes inspired by flavours from around the world. Whether you’re stopping by for a morning coffee and pastry or looking for a light bite at lunchtime in Southwold, The Canteen are sure to impress with their ever-changing menu using fresh, local produce as well as their homemade cordials, preserves and condiments.
Their award winning Head Chef Nicola Hordern has shared with us her recipe for an Italian Easter Pie below. We hope you’ll give it a try this Easter!
Torta Pasqualina or Italian Easter Pie by Nicola Hordern
This pie originates in Liguria and is traditionally served cold. With a filling of greens, curd cheese, and eggs wrapped in pastry it is a dish that’s particularly good to make ahead for a family gathering or Easter picnic. It’s no coincidence that the filling is made up of ingredients that start to make an appearance at this time of year. This is a time of the first signs of Spring and its associations with new life and renewal. The dairy herds will have just been put out to pasture, a time for the making of fresh cheese. The over wintering leaves of chard and kale are still in the vegetable garden plus new shoots of wild greens such as nettles and wild garlic. The longer days means that the hens are now happy and laying more regularly. Eggs are a symbol for both the Christian celebration of Easter and pre-Christian pagan celebrations of the Spring Equinox and the goddess Eostre, which is why they are often used in recipes at this time of year.
To make life easier I have suggested using ready made all butter puff pastry, filo is also a good option – three sheets each for the base and lid brushed with melted butter between each sheet. By all means make your own if you would like, but make sure you rest your pastry for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before using. Traditionally this pie is made using chard, which is one of my favourites, but you can freestyle a little. Make a mix of your choice – add something like spinach, and perhaps some of the foraged greens I mention above – things that wilt and collapse with a little water. Or do as the Romans do and add some early shoots of ground elder. Alexanders might be good too as there are lots around us right now, but just a little as they have quite an overpowering flavour if used in large amounts. Once you have cooked the greens, make sure you squeeze them dry before using in the pie. One of the best ways to do this is to drain the greens in a colander then wrap in a tea towel and wring out over the sink until dry.
One last thing – if you are using foraged ingredients, please make sure you are absolutely certain of what you have picked. If in doubt, leave it out!
You will need:
1 x 20 cm cake tin (springform is ideal), greased and lined
2 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry, kept cool
For the filling:
-3 teaspoons of olive oil
-1 white onion, finely diced
-500g cooked greens of your choice (weight after cooked and squeezed dry, see note above) approximately 800g uncooked weight
-250g ricotta, curd cheese, or crème fraiche
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 egg, beaten
-100g parmesan or similar strongly flavoured hard cheese
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
-6 eggs (reserve and beat one egg for pastry wash)
Line the base and sides of your tin with a sheet of puff pastry. You can patchwork it in place if you find it doesn’t quite fit but make sure you don’t have any holes or thin areas as the filling will leak. Pop the lined tin in the fridge to rest while you make the filling.
Carefully wash you greens under running water to make sure they are free from grit. Gently shake them and cook in a lidded pan with the water that clings to them for about 10-15 minutes on a low heat until thoroughly wilted, then drain and dry as noted above. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside in a mixing bowl. You should have around 500g cooked weight for your pie.
Whilst the greens are cooling heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion for around 5 minutes until softened, (you don’t want it coloured but a little won’t hurt) leave to cool in the pan and then add to your chopped greens.
Next, add the curd, ricotta, or crème fraiche, the beaten egg, parmesan, and parsley to the bowl. Mix well and season to taste.
Cut out a circle from a second sheet of pastry, just slightly smaller than the 20cm tin.
Take out your lined pie case and fill with the mix, smooth out and then make five shallow holes for the eggs. Break the eggs into the holes and then cover with the circle of pastry. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and then carefully fold the pastry lining over the circle of pastry sitting on top and seal. Finish brushing the edges with egg wash and then pop in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes or so (longer doesn’t matter) and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Pop the pie in the oven and cook for 1 hour. You can eat straightaway or leave to cool. It can be kept in the fridge overnight until needed.
Happy Easter and Buon Appetito!
The Canteen is located on Field Stile Road which is equally close to the High Street, Southwold beach & Tibby’s Green. The Canteen is open for breakfasts, pastries and more Tuesday – Saturday with lunches available Wednesday – Saturday.