Tortino Alle Erbe

Savoury Spinach Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Recipes from an Italian Farmhouse

Recipes from an Italian Farmhouse

By Valentina Harris

Published 1995

  • About

In Emilia Romagna they are very keen on savoury cakes, such as this one which is a flattish cake-shaped ‘pie’, cut into slices and serve from the tin.


  • 1.2 kg ( lb) spinach or tender Swiss chard, washed and stalks trimmed off
  • salt
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) olive oil plus extra for drizzling a handful of fresh basil chopped
  • 225 g (8 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or half Parmesan and half pecorino cheese)
  • 150 g (5 oz) plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon lard


Cut the spinach or chard into strips. Sprinkle it liberally with salt in a wide bowl, turning it over with your hands so that it all gets covered with salt.

Leave it to rest for 1 hour, then squeeze out all the water with your hands, dry it carefully and put it back into the dried bowl. Add the oil, basil and cheese and mix it all together. Set aside.

Put the flour, lard and about 4 tablespoons cold water in a bowl and knead to a fairly stiff dough. Grease a 25 cm (10 inch) cake tin with a little oil. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other.

Roll out the larger piece of dough and line the cake tin with it. Put the spinach or chard filling inside, smoothing it so that it is level. Roll out the second piece of dough until it is really thin, then place it on top of the tin like a tablecloth – the art of this dish is in the draping! Great contests have arisen between cooks and housewives as to who could make the draped dough look most decorative.

Pinch the edges together all the way around the circle, pushing the extra flap of dough back on to the surface of the cake. Prick tiny holes in the surface to allow the steam to escape and paint a little olive oil all over the cake to make it crisp. Bake in a moderate oven (180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4) for 1 hour. Drizzle fresh olive oil all over it before serving it piping hot, cut into slices.