the appetizer:

Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Family Traditions by Rosanna Bowles includes recipes like Paglia e Fieno (Straw and Hay Pasta); Pumpkin and Cat Cupcakes; Erbazzone (Spinach and Cheese Tart); and Thanksgiving Roasted Vegetables.

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Spinach and Cheese Tart

Serves 16

Erbazzone (Spinach and Cheese Tart)


I prepare this dish on Christmas Day, along with the torta rustica, and my family looks forward to it every year with great anticipation. It is a vitamin-packed dish of spinach, eggs, and three cheeses baked in a flaky pastry crust and cut into squares, and it is best served hot from the oven and eaten immediately.

I learned how to make erbazzone from my relatives in Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. If you ever visit Reggio Emilia you will find erbazzone everywhere—it's a staple for the Emilians—sold in small bars and neighborhood bakeries. Be careful, though: It is addictive.

For the dough

For the filling

Erbazzone (Spinach and Cheese Tart)

Make the dough: Put the butter, and sour cream in a food processor. Pulse to combine and add the flour. When the dough forms a loose mass, take it out and form it into two balls. Place each ball on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper or plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Make the filling: Let the spinach thaw in a colander. Squeeze out all the water until the spinach is dry. (It is very important that there is no excess liquid in the spinach mixture.)

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the spinach and salt and sauté for 5 minutes.

Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl and refrigerate until cool. Add cheeses and 3 of the beaten eggs and stir to combine. Set aside.

Assemble and bake the tart: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) (Gas mark 4).

On a pastry cloth, using a floured rolling pin covered with a pastry stocking, roll out one ball of dough into a rectangular shape, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet: Place a baking sheet upside down on top of the rolled-out dough, grasp the edges of the pastry cloth, and flip it over; the dough will be positioned on top of the baking sheet.

Spread the spinach mixture over the dough rectangle about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.

Roll out the second ball of dough into a rectangle. Using the pastry cloth to help you lift it, grasp each end and flip it over onto the filling. Turn under all the edges of the dough and crimp them closed. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the top of the tart with the egg. Make several small cuts in the top to allow steam to escape as the tart bakes.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the mixture is cooked. Cut into 3-inch (7.5 cm) squares and serve on a festive platter.


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This page created October 2010