Venice is recognized as a source of a dazzling variety of seafood and seafood dishes, but what is not so generally known is that, for its light-handed cooking, it also draws on the riches of the vegetable gardens that cover the farm islands of its lagoon. Most prominent among these islands is S. Erasmo, whose fields benefit from exposure to the savory, salt-laden breezes of the Adriatic. S. Erasmo’s most famous product is artichoke. In the spring it is copious in the market, whence it finds its way into risotto, into pasticcio—the Venetian version of lasagne—into fish and vegetable combinations; raw, into salads; and, most elegantly perhaps, into pies such as this one.
Here artichokes are combined with Swiss chard, another S. Erasmo specialty. A Venetian cook would have the option of buying young spring chard before it has grown a large stalk, when it looks like spinach, but I have rarely seen chard that young abroad. If you have only mature chard available, use just the leaves for this recipe, keeping the stalks for a soup or for gratinéing or for other chard recipes that you find in this and in my previous books.
With the young vegetables of the lagoon, olive oil is the cooking medium of choice, and that is what I have used here. The taste impressions this dish makes, light in weight yet deep in satisfaction, evoke the spirit that animates Venetian cooking at its freshest.
9½-inch springform pan
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.