At Easter time, this savory tart is traditional in Liguria, but it has become so popular that you can now find it year-round.
Some cooks make it with just one vegetable, while others use a mix like chard, spinach, arugula, beet greens, and/or artichoke hearts.
Originally the tart was made with thirty-three layers of dough, representing the years of Jesus’ life, but this is a streamlined contemporary version with just two layers enclosing the vegetable and cheese filling.
The crust for the pie is made with olive oil instead of butter or shortening, which gives it a melt-in-your mouth tenderness and great flavor.
A vegan friend taught me a great trick: Freezing the oil to a slushy consistency makes the crust easier to handle.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
About ¼ cup cold water
1 pound Swiss chard, stems removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or ½ teaspoon dried
Freshly ground pepper
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
To make the crust
Place the olive oil in a small container in the freezer until it is slushy around the edges, 30 to 60 minutes.
In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt. (The dough can also be made with an electric mixer.)
Add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse to blend, adding the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to make a smooth, soft dough.
Remove the dough from the machine and cut it into 2 pieces, one twice as large as the other.
Shape the pieces into disks. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
To make the filling
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the Swiss chard and 2 teaspoons salt and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the chard is tender. Drain in a colander and cool under cold running water. Let cool completely.
Wrap the chard in a kitchen towel and squeeze well to extract as much liquid as possible. Place the chard on a cutting board and chop into ½-inch pieces.
In a medium skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chard and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the ricotta, marjoram, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the Parmigiano and the chard mixture until blended.
To assemble and bake
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a 9-inch tart pan.
Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the pan and fit it into the bottom and up against the sides. Trim off all but ½ inch of dough around the rim.
Scrape the filling into the pan.
Roll out the smaller disk of dough to a 10-inch circle and place it over the filling.
Roll the edge of the bottom crust up over the top and pinch together to seal. With a small knife, cut 6 small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
Place the pan on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the pastry is browned. Cool the tart in the pan for 10 minutes.
Remove the rim of the pan and cut the tart into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.