Italian Language Blog

Torta Verde di Lucca Posted by on Mar 20, 2009 in Uncategorized

I was inspecting the orto (vegetable garden) yesterday and to my delight I saw that the bietole (Swiss chard, a type of perennial spinach very popular here in Italy) is starting to grow back after its winter rest. I immediately thought of Torta Verde di Lucca (Lucca’s Green Pie), also known as Torta di Verdure (Vegetables Pie) or Torta d’Erbe (Green Vegetables Pie). In Lucca this is a very popular pie made from simple ingredients that would be available in the house of every contadino (peasant), but it’s not well known outside Lucca. Despite the name and the ingredients, Torta Verde di Lucca is actually a sweet pie. In other parts of Italy, if you ask for a Torta di Verdure or Torta d’Erbe, you’ll be given a savoury vegetable pie. So without further ado here’s the recipe for Torta Verde di Lucca.

Ingredienti per la pasta (ingredients for the pastry):

400 grammi di farina (14 oz plain flour)

150 grammi di zucchero semolato (6 oz caster sugar)

100 grammi di burro ammorbidito (4 oz softened butter)

vanillina (vanilla essence)

3 uova: 1 intero e 2 tuorli (3 eggs: 1 whole and 2 yolks)

Buccia di 1 arancia e 1 limone grattugiati (grated rinds of 1 orange and 1 lemon)

2 cucchiaini di lievito in polvere (2 teaspoons baking powder)

2 cucchiai di olio d’oliva (2 tablespoons of olive oil)

1/2 bicchierino di liquore a piacere (25 ml of your favorite sweet liqueur)

Put the flour on the work surface; make a well and add the eggs and all the other ingredients. Mix well, beginning with a fork and then with your hands, work quickly but don’t overwork the mixture. Make a ball and leave the dough to rest in a cool place.

Ingredienti per il ripieno (ingredients for the filling):

100 grammi di pane raffermo (4 oz leftover bread)

100 ml di latte (100 ml milk)

50 grammi di burro (2 oz butter)

100 grammi di zucchero semolato (4 oz caster sugar)

30 grammi di formaggio grattugiato: parmigiano e pecorino (1 and 1/2 oz grated cheese, a mixture of parmigiano and pecorino)

2 uova sbattute (2 eggs, beaten)

300 grammi di bietola tritate (12 oz Swiss chards, chopped, if not available you can use spinach)

1 ciuffo abbondante di prezzemolo (a handful of parsley, chopped)

50 grammi di uva passa (2 oz raisins)

50 grammi di canditi (2 oz candied peels)

50 grammi di pinoli (2 oz pine nuts)

1/2 bicchierino di liquore a piacere (25 ml of your favorite sweet liqueur)

1 pizzico ciascuno di sale, pepe, noce moscata e cannella (1 pinch of each of the following: salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon)

Soak the bread in the milk. In a large frying pan melt the butter, add the Swiss chard and the parsley and cook them for a few minutes until soft. Leave them to cool down. Squeeze the milk out of the bread, place it in a mixing bowl and add the cold Swiss chards and all the other ingredients, mix well. The mixture should be slightly runny. Grease a 30 cm pie dish, and dust it with flour. Roll out the pastry until it’s wider than the pie dish. Line the dish with the pastry and pour the filling mixture into it. Trim the pastry and with the leftovers make some flat strips; use them to decorate the pie with a crisscross pattern. Bake in a moderate oven, 180C degrees, 350F, or Gas Mark 4, for about 1 hour, until the filling is firm and the pastry golden. Serve cold.

Buon appetito!

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  1. Delfina e Giacomo:

    Makes our mouths water! We will try it next time in Lucca. Enjoy your blog very much. We get a LOT of good words and their uses here. Thanks, Serena.
    Delfina e Giacomo

  2. ann:

    This looks like a delicious recipe. What is caster sugar? (Not being a great cook, I’d love it if you’d use cups instead of ozs.) Thanks for your so interesting blogs. I’m trying to learn Italian. These help. ( Now to learn to speak in Italian.)

  3. Nisha:

    Can you please explain why “cucchiaini” is used with baking powder and “cucchiai” with oil?

  4. Serena:

    Caster sugar is a fine white sugar which is used in baking as it dissolves more easily, but it’s not as powdery as icing or confectionary sugar.
    Sorry Italian recipes are not written in cup measurement so I’m not familiar with them, but I’ve included both grammes and ounces. You’ll certainly be able to find some measurement conversion on the Internet.

  5. Serena:

    Nisha wrote “Can you please explain why “cucchiaini” is used with baking powder and “cucchiai” with oil?”

    Because a cucchiaio is a tablespoon whereas a cucchiaino is a ‘little spoon’ or teaspoon. Of course if you want to put 2 tablespoons of baking powder in the recipe go ahead, but be prepared for an explosive surprise!!

    Buon appetito, Serena

  6. j.martinelli:

    found a receipt book from my (86 yr) italian mother, it was her Grandmothers from Lucca, this receipt is almost exact, we needed some clarification in her torta receipt and this really helped. thank you

    • Serena:

      @j.martinelli Salve! Sono contenta che la mia ricetta della torta verde vi sia stata utile. Ci sono infinite variazioni, ovviamente, perché ogni famiglia ha la sua ricetta.
      Saluti da Serena

    • m. martinelli:

      @j.martinelli Went to Lucca this summer with family. Both grandparents are from there. My grandmother always made this pie for the holidays. No one in the family has the recipe. Was very happy when we went to Lucca and found the torta. Was able to get most of the ingredients for the torta from the lady at the bakery.

  7. MaryEsther Marchi:

    This is the Torta de Lucca is the torta I remember watching my mother bake with one of her friends. Its’ still vivid in my mind even though it was over 60 yeas ago. When we went to Italy I finally had the opportunity to taste it again. I was never able to find the recipe for it. now I understand why after reading this. I’m definitely going to try to make it . I know it will bring back memories for me I also remember she made some that had chocolate in it. Of coarse that was my favorite. Is the recipe the same and how much and what kind of chocolate should I add?

    • Serena:

      @MaryEsther Marchi Salve MaryEster! I’m pleased that you managed to rediscover this recipe. Here’s the recipe for chocolate one. The base is the same.
      Ingredients for the filling: 1/2 litre of milk; 300 grams of sweet cocoa powder; 2 yolks; 2 tablespoons of plain flour; a pinch of salt; a little of your favourite sweet liqueur; a little strong coffee.
      Preparation: Mix the flour with a little milk, then add the two yolks and mix well using a whisk. Gradually add the rest of the milk and the cocoa. Cook, mixing with the whisk all the time, until the cream is thick. Turn the heat off, add the salt, liqueur and coffee, whisking well. Cook as the torta verde.
      Tanti Auguri!

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