These days, conferences of all kinds and even classes at local colleges stress the importance of social media as part of being a savvy professional. It seems everyone is 'on' facebook and twitter, despite sometimes even their own hesitations about the importance of what they have to say. But this recipe is a testament of the best way that social media can work: I learn a classic Argentinean recipe, make a new friend, and share ideas--all from my computer. Yes, I would rather sit down to Tom's Tarta Pascualina at his table in Spokane, but since that's impossible, I just want to revel in being able to connect with him--something that wouldn't have been possible even a few years ago.
This recipe for Tarta Pascualina came to me on Facebook. Tom Barbieri, native of Buenos Aires, transplant to Spokane, Washington, found me there--I can't tell you all how delighted I was to get a recipe from a reader! I'm always saying--'send me an email if you have questions or suggestions,' and I'm so glad he did. He posted a photo of his lovely tarta on the Fans of From Argentina With Love page, and I immediately emailed him for the recipe.
Layered tartas in many forms (butternut and ricotta, corn, tuna, ham and cheese...) are found all over Argentina--a sort of quiche/tart that has its roots in northern Italy. So many Italian recipes found their way to Argentina to be reborn; this one is traditionally served at Easter because of the whole eggs cracked onto the top of the filling before baking. However, Tom's recipe is simple and flavorful, and can be enjoyed any time of year.
This makes the perfect lunch or dinner, served with a light green salad or a fresh tomato salad drizzled in olive oil. The trick is to make the tartain a springform pan, so it can get enough height for the layers of filling it contains. This one is layered in spinach and ricotta, with a layer of bell peppers in the center, and of course, the classic eggs--one for each serving of tarta. Absolutely delicious; a slice would be perfect with a nice, cold Torrontes.
Tarta Pascualina de Tom Barbieri
Tom's Tarta Pascualina
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 bunches spinach, stemmed and washed very well
1 15 oz. container fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Italian four cheese blend OR 1/8 cup each Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses
8 eggs (6 for the tarta, one for the spinach/ricotta filling and one for glazing the shell)
1 each red, green and yellow bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 package tarta shells, (2 shells) or 2 pie crusts, homemade or pre-made, such as Pillsbury
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a springform pan with baking spray. In a medium skillet, heat the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Meanwhile, heat the two large bunches of spinach in a stock pot with a small amount of water over medium heat. Cover, let steam until the spinach has wilted.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 4-cheese blend, julienned bell peppers, 1 egg, salt, and pepper and mix well. Line the bottom of the springform pan with one tarta crust. Drain the spinach, press with a clean towel to force out excess moisture. Stir spinach into cheese mixture. Put the cheese mixture into the tarta shell in the pan.
Smooth out the top to form an even layer. Make 6 indentations in the filling, and crack an egg into each one--each slice of tarta should have some egg in it. Cover with the second tarta shell, and seal the edges with pinch-pleating technique or a fork. Bake for at least 45 minutes, or until the shell is golden brown and the inside has set. Let cool completely before serving.