The days of abundant eggs and greens are back.
Every year I marvel at the spinach and kale, which literally springs back into action once the days are longer. These vegetables are champions of the Irish climate. We pick them in the summer, autumn and spring all from one sowing. So worth growing and as always I urge you to set some of your own if you have anywhere to grow. They look beautiful too and would be happy in the flowerbed if you don’t have a vegetable patch. My favourite kales are ‘Raggety Jack’ or ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Asparagus kale and the spinach we grow is perpetual spinach. All of these plants are ‘pick and come again’ so you can pick and pick away.
We’re patiently waiting for all the new seeds to grow. Every surface in the glasshouse is covered with seed trays, some with seedlings popping up and others with potential. Daily nurturing makes it feel slow but I only have to go away for a few days to see plenty of progress.
Meanwhile we are feasting on kale and spinach and eggs as the chickens have become egg-laying machines again – it’s not only the greens that function with daylight.
Here’s a recipe for Torta Pasqualina, an Easter tart made with spinach and eggs, perfect for an Easter lunch.
I have made it with filo – apparently at one time it was made with 33 sheets of pastry – one for each year of Jesus’ life – I only use six or seven sheets, but there you go. It’s possible to use shortcrust of puff pastry if you prefer.
Spinach Filo Pie
half tsp salt
bunch chervil, dill, fennel, parsley etc
175mls sour cream
50mls olive oil
Pre-heat oven 180c
Put a big pot of water to boil.
Wash the spinach, strip out any big stems and when the water is boiling add 1tsp salt and half the spinach – best to blanch the spinach in two batches – submerge the spinach for one minute then remove and refresh in cold water then repeat with the second batch.
Drain the spinach and squeeze any excess water out with your hands.
Put the spinach on a chopping board and chop finely. Season with a little salt.
Chop the herbs – you need a large handful of whatever you have.
Put the ricotta, 1 egg and 150mls sour cream into a bowl and mix well.
Stir in the spinach and herbs
Melt the butter and olive oil together in a small saucepan – you don’t need to measure this just approximate and if you run out use more.
Take a 20cm cake tin and line it with a piece of parchment paper. Brush this with a little of the butter/olive oil mix. Carefully peel a sheet of filo from the pile and drape over the lined tin. Push gently into the sides then repeat with six more sheets leaving the excess hanging over the edge.
Pour the spinach mix into the tin and level out then make five or six hollows for the eggs.
Carefully crack an egg into each hollow then begin to cover over with the overhanging filo brushing each layer with the olive oil egg mix.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it’s beginning to go lightly golden then mix the remaining sour cream (25mls) with the milk and brush over the top of the pastry. Return the pie to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until crispy and golden.