One of the traditional Ligurian dishes is the Torta Pasqualina, a delicious vegetable-based preparation eaten all year round today. You can find them mainly at the ‘fornaio’ (oven baker), ‘pasticceria’ (pastry shop), ‘panetteria’ (bakery), in shops, bars and sciamadde (of Genova). It is an easy take-away dish.
It is an ancient vegetable pie with a filling of chard, cheese, eggs, fresh marjoram and prescinseua (a kind of ricotta) cheese. Originally, it was prepared for Easter celebrations and was covered with thirty-three layers of puff pastry, in homage to the age of Christ. The original Torta Pasqualina used chard because it was cheap and easy to find. Nowadays, you very often find them with spinach, but there is also a more sophisticated version with artichokes.
Torta Pasqualina is the queen of savoury pies and is typical of the city of Genoa. According to legend, in addition to the thirty-three layers of puff pastry, whole eggs had to be put into the filling as a symbol of the birth of Christ. In the oven, the yolks become firm and perfectly visible when you cut the cake.
On the vegetable cake, marks used to be made with a knife, because people would recognise their cake when they took it to the communal oven. You can find this delicacy at the many bakeries under the name: ‘fornaio’, ‘panettiere’, ‘panificatore’, ‘pasticceria’, ‘sciamadde’ or also at a ‘bar’ or ‘bottega’.