INSALATA PASQUALINA/EASTER SALAD
This is a typical dish from the Veneto, the addition of the egg tends to be its feature along with the seasonal asparagus, but the rest of ingredients are often adapted according to taste.
To serve 4 people:
* 500g asparagus
* 125g prawns (we like avocado or cherry tomatoes for a veggie alternative)
* 60ml of extra virgin olive oil
* 8 quail eggs
* 1 boiled egg
* 1 lettuce heart or salad leaves of your choice
* pitted green olives, parsley, marjoram, wine vinegar, a splash of wine.
1. First boil an egg to your taste and set aside.
2. Prepare the asparagus then boil in a little salted water until al dente, drain then cut, leaving the tips intact.
3. Put the quail eggs in a pan in cold water, let them cook on a gentle heat for 4 minutes from the beginning of the boil then pass them under cold water and shell them.
4. Wash, dry and prepare the salad leaves, if using the lettuce heart it should be cut into strips and displayed in a fan around the dish. We like to top with edible flowers for a maximum spring time feel!
5. Construct the salad by placing the prawns and sliced eggs in the centre of the salad, the asparagus tips cut lengthwise around the plate and the remaining eggs halved in between.
6. To give the Easter salad even more flavour, create a sauce to pour over the salad by blending the hard-boiled egg yolk, the oil, a dozen green olives, a tablespoon of vinegar, one of wine, three of cold water , salt and a generous grind of pepper. Finally, flavour everything with chopped parsley and marjoram and pour over just before serving.
Originally from Liguria, but now enjoyed all over Italy, this Easter pie would traditionally use artichokes or chard and have 33 layers of pastry! (said to represent each year in the life of Jesus) Most are now made with two layers and whichever spring veg has become part of the family recipe. Here’s the one we are using, it serves 4:
* 800g of spinach
* 500g of ricotta
* 6 eggs
* 2 sheets of puff pastry
* black pepper
1. Wilt spinach in a pan, leave to cool then whizz for a few seconds in a blender. Mix in a bowl with ricotta, season and mix in one egg
2. Butter a deep 20cm cake tin and line it with one sheet of puff pastry. Pour in the spinach mixture and chill in fridge for 30 min.
3. Make four large holes in the spinach mixture with a spoon and break 1 egg into each one.
4. Cut an 18cm circle out of the second sheet of puff pastry. Place over the top and score a cross in the pastry over the eggs so that when you come to cut the pie you will cut the eggs in half.
5. Brush with remaining egg, fold lining edges over the lid to seal and cut a small hole in top for the cooking.
6. Return to the fridge for 30min whilst oven preheats to 180/4 then bake for 1 hour.
7. Allow the pie to cool to taste then cut into eight portions.
Save any leftovers to eat cold on Monday’s Pasquetta picnic!
ITALIAN EASTER BREAD
This is not a recipe we tend to make in our family as we usually satisfy our sweet tooth with the Colomba. However, a friend recently asked us about it so we have included this recipe for her. Italian Easter Bread is a soft sweet brioche dough formed into wreaths or braided. Coloured eggs are baked into the bread and it can be sprinkled with sugar strands to make it extra festive and bright. The egg will cook as the dough bakes. It takes quite a while to create but has some fun parts that can be done as a family and the bake itself doesn’t take long.
To make 6:
*200g white bread flour, allow for more if require
* 1 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
*pinch of salt
*50g of granulated sugar
* 1 egg
* 1/4 tsp vanilla essence, optional
* 40g of melted butter
* 150ml of milk
* egg white, for egg wash
* food colouring of your choice
1. Using a free standing mixer, add the flour, yeast, salt and sugar to the bowl and mix well
2. Melt the butter in the milk, either in a saucepan or in the microwave, warming it just until the butter melts but without boiling. The yeast won’t work if it gets too hot.
3. Beat the egg into the flour mix, add the vanilla if using, then the milk and butter mix. Stir to roughly mix. Using the dough hook, knead on medium for about 7 to 8 minutes or by hand on a floured surface for 10-12 minutes.
4. Add more flour gradually if the dough is too wet, until it starts pulling off the sides of the bowl or until pliable and no longer sticky if working by hand.
5. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover loosely with a cloth. Leave it to prove for about 2 hours in a warm place or until it doubles in size.
6. Meanwhile dye the eggs by diluting your food colouring in warm water and gently placing the egg into it, leaving it for at least an hour, but the longer the better for a stronger colour.
7. When the dough has doubled, punch it down lightly and transfer on to a floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes then divide into 6 pieces
8. Roll each piece to form a rope of about 1 inch in thickness. Pinch the edges of two together then twist to create a braid before bringing both ends together to make a circle.
9. Place on a lined baking tray lined with baking paper and put the dyed egg into the centre of each circle. Set aside to prove for another hour or so. When ready to bake, give the dough a wash of egg white and top with any sprinkles you are using.
10. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
11. Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes or until the bread is golden in colour. Cool on racks before serving.
Other options include one large loaf like below: