Torta Rustica With Ricotta and Spinach

Torta Rustica With Ricotta and Spinach

Torta rustica (also called pizza rustica) is a rich, ricotta-stuffed pie that’s traditionally baked for Easter in Southern Italy. This version includes greens (either spinach or chard) for color and freshness. The ham is optional; feel free to leave it out, or substitute chopped olives or sundried tomatoes if you’re looking for a similar savory bite. The crust, adapted from Nancy Harmon Jenkins’s 2007 cookbook, “Cucina del Sole,” is sturdy and slightly sweet, which makes a nice contrast to the salty filling. (For more on producing a lattice-style crust, see our How to Make Pie Crust guide.)
  • Total:
  • Serves: 10 persons



  1. Step 1

    Make the dough: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms lima bean-size pieces. Alternatively, mix together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then add butter, working the pieces into the flour with your hands, squeezing and pinching them until the mixture looks like oatmeal.
  2. Step 2

    Add egg, egg white and lemon zest, and pulse after each addition. If working by hand, whisk together egg, egg white and lemon zest in a separate bowl, then mix into the butter mixture. Slowly add iced wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix by hand until the dough just comes together. You may not need all the liquid. The dough should be moist, but not wet.
  3. Step 3

    Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gather and press it into a ball. Divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other, and shape into disks. Wrap the disks tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.
  4. Step 4

    When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Step 5

    Make the filling: If your ricotta seems watery, put it in a sieve and let it drain while you cook the spinach.
  6. Step 6

    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and a large pinch of salt, and continue to cook until spinach is very dry, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl to cool. If any liquid accumulates as the spinach sits, pour it out of the bowl (you don’t want it to water down the ricotta).
  7. Step 7

    In a food processor, purée drained ricotta and eggs until just combined and smooth. Add to the bowl with the spinach and fold in mozzarella, pecorino, ham (if using), parsley, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red-pepper flakes and nutmeg. Set aside when rolling out dough (or chill for up to 4 hours).
  8. Step 8

    On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger pastry dough disk to a 14-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch springform pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan. Scrape filling into crust and spread evenly. Roll out second pastry disk to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Cut 1/2-inch-wide strips and weave into a lattice on top of the filling. Seal, trim and crimp the edges. Brush the top of the torta with the egg wash.
  9. Step 9

    Place torta on sheet pan and bake until crust is crisp and brown, and filling is firm, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before serving.