Mary Ann Esposito’s Erbazzone (Reggio Emilia’s Swiss Chard Pie)

By Aimee Tucker

May 16 2022

Weekends with Yankee Q&A | Mary Ann Esposito

In “Feeding the Soul,” (season 6, episode 7) Amy is in New Hampshire to meet with the host of the longest-running cooking series in television history, Mary Ann Esposito. Amy swings by Tuscan Market in Portsmouth to pick up some cannoli and ricotta pie to bring to Mary Ann at her home in Durham. Mary Ann shares stories from her PBS show Ciao Italia which has been on the air since 1989 and how her connection with the culture and food of Italy continues to inspire her. Then, she and Amy bake up a gorgeous Erbazzone tart from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.

The tart is usually made with Swiss chard or spinach. When it is encased in a slightly sweetened pastry crust it is called erbazzone; when made without a crust it is called scarpazzone. The filling can be flavored with pancetta, or onions and parsley. This version includes ricotta cheese and raisins. Cook the Swiss chard or spinach dry in a soup pot with only the water clinging to its leaves after cleaning it. This rustic pie is delicious served hot or at room temperature.

2 pounds Swiss chard, washed, leaves only
1/3 cup raisins or candied citron, diced
One 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese, well-drained
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
1 large egg

Yield:

8 servings

For the filling:

Ingredients

Put the Swiss chard in a pot. Cover and wilt the leaves over medium heat. Drain, squeeze the leaves dry and mince them. Transfer the leaves to a bowl and stir in the raisins, cheese, salt, nutmeg, sugar, egg, and bread crumbs. Set aside. Make the pastry as described above and fill following the same procedure.

Place the Swiss chard in a large pot with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook just until the leaves wilt down. Drain them then squeeze out as much water as possible and mice them.

In a saute pan cook the pancetta in 2 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is soft. Stir in the greens and cook them for 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl. Add the cheese, flour, salt and pepper and mix well.

For the Dough:

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold water

Instructions

Now make the dough: Mix the flour, potato starch, salt, and sugar together in bowl or food processor. Quickly incorporate the butter with a pastry blender or pulse it in the food processor. Stir in the egg and mix to form a dough. If the dough is dry, add a few drops of cold water as needed.

Form the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.

Lightly butter a 9-inch tart shell with a removable bottom. Set aside to cool or make the day before and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of the dough with a rolling pin and line the tart shell, allowing for a 1-inch overhang. Spread the filling in the shell. Cover with the second sheet of rolled out dough. Seal the edges and trim away the excess dough. Make a few fork marks on the top crust and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Cool 30 minutes before removing the tart shell rim. Cut the tart into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.