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Slice of spinach torta rustica on a small white plate with a bamboo handled fork

Spinach Torta Rustica

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This spectacular Spinach Torta Rustica is an Italian spinach tart with spinach ricotta filling encased in buttery yeast bread.  A savory “pastry, ” it’s similar to a Pizza Rustica that’s frequently served on Easter Sunday.

This Cheesy Stuffed Bread is much thicker than either a pizza or American tart, but is a delicious addition to a holiday meal or eaten as a simple, comforting entree!

Spinach Torta Rustica with a wedge removed on a white serving plate

Spinach Torta Rustica

Bill’s Aunt Alice shared this spinach tart recipe with me when we first moved to Indianapolis.  Alice’s first question to me when we met (on about my second date with Bill) was, “Do you like to cook?”  I think my answer sealed her approval.  We bonded that day at a college football game…mainly because neither one of us paid much attention to anything but the clock.  Well, I thought I’d misplaced this recipe, but found the splattered copy folded in my recipe box. 

Slice of spinach tart on a white plate with a bamboo handle fork

How to Make an Italian Spinach Bread

This yeast dough is soft and buttery, like a brioche.  Not the easiest to cut and weave, but that’s what makes it look rustic. And the spinach filling is generous and delicious, a nice contrast to the tender bread. Here are the steps to make this spinach bread.

  • First, make the yeast dough. Double-check to make sure your yeast has not expired by checking the date on the packaging.
  • Pro-Tip: If your yeast packet or jar is near its expiration time, you can go ahead with the first step in this recipe to see if it’s still alive and active. Sprinkle the yeast over warm water and add the honey. If the mixture does not start to bubble or foam and give off a yeasty aroma, do not continue with the recipe until you purchase new yeast.
  • PRO-Tip: Proof your dough in a warm spot in your kitchen, 85 º is the optimal temperature. If you try to force your dough to rise by placing it in a hotter environment, the resulting bread you bake will rise, fall, and collapse.
  • While the dough is proofing, make your filling.
  • Make sure your spinach is very dry. Drain the excess liquid, then squeeze the spinach to remove as much water as possible.
  • Saute the garlic and onion until soft, mix in the spinach. Mix the rest of the filling ingredients in a bowl, then combine with the spinach mixture.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other.
  • Roll the larger piece into a round that will fit in the bottom of your springform pan. Roll the second piece into a 9-inch square and cut into 9-10 strips.
  • To put the spinach bread together, top the dough in the bottom of the pan with the spinach mixture, then weave the strips on top of the spinach to make a lattice pattern, going over and under with each strip. Tuck the ends down around the filling.
  • Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. Bake as directed and serve warm or at room temperature.
Overhead view of a spinach torta rustica on a round white plate

Cheesy Stuffed Bread

How do you store a Torta Rustica?

Since there is an egg and ricotta in the filling, this spinach bread should be kept in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. To serve, bring the bread to room temperature or gently warm it.

What is the difference between Pizza Rustica and Torta Rustica?

Both are rustic tarts, but a pizza rustica typically has a thinner, flaky crust, and more of a quiche-like filling. The pizza rustica is also known as an Easter pie. Torta rustica is more of a broad term, and pizza rustica could be considered a subcategory of the torta rustica.

Can you use other cheeses in a torta rustica?

Yes, feel free to add some shredded cheese to the filling. I’d suggest Mozzarella to keep with the Italian theme, but Monterey Jack or Cheddar would also be delicious.

This spinach torta rustica was just as wonderful as I remembered, but it did not instantly convert Nick, our youngest, into a spinach fan. He said it wasn’t the worst thing he’s tasted.  Baby steps.  It may take college for his finicky palate to appreciate mom’s home cooking.  Bill never ate spinach until he met me…and he had seconds and thirds of this delicious cheesy stuffed bread.

More Bread Recipes You’ll Love:

Slice of spinach tart on a white plate

This recipe was first shared in July 2011. Photos and text were updated in 2020.

Slice of spinach torta rustica on a small white plate with a bamboo handled fork

Spinach Torta Rustica

A rustic Italian tart made with a buttery yeast dough and a spinach ricotta filling.

Ingredients

Torta dough:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105-115º)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick), at room temperature

Filling:

  • 1 10-ounce package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • A few grates of fresh nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Instructions

To prepare the torta dough, sprinkle yeast over warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. 

Add honey and let stand for 5 minutes.  Mix in salt and 1/2 cup flour.  Beat for about 3 minutes on medium speed.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Gradually beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour to make a soft dough.  Beat in butter, one tablespoon at a time. 

Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Make filling while the dough rises. To make the filling, saute onion in olive oil till soft and lightly browned.  Stir in garlic and cook for less than a minute.  Mix in spinach and remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolk.  Mix in ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add spinach mixture.

Punch down risen dough.  Divide into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.  On a floured surface, roll larger piece into an 8-inch circle.  Fit into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. 

Spread evenly with filling. Roll the rest of the dough into a 9-inch square. 

Cut the square into 9 or 10 strips.  Weave strips over the top of the filling to make a lattice pattern.  Tuck the ends of the dough down around the filling.

Preheat oven to 375º.  Let torta rise for 15-20 minutes till dough puffs up slightly.  Brush top of the dough with an egg beaten with water. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, till browned.  Cool for 5 minutes, then remove rim.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Recipe courtesy of Bill's Aunt Alice.

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55 comments on “Spinach Torta Rustica”

  1. I cant believe that topping how beautiful it came together that weave is gorgeous, love the color. This must be like a semi sweet dough and then this filling is over the top, I just love breads and then filled with my two favorites! WOW you out did yourself this is amazingly beautifully done!~ BRAVO!~

  2. Looks really delicious! how is that beautiful dog not lunging for this!

  3. This looks and sounds delightful! I love spinach, and, luckily — and after a few years — Mr. Rosemary does, too. It’s just the bread-making that discourages me from trying this!

  4. Very tasty this spinach torta.

  5. I’ll take a big slice! 🙂

  6. Looks like a delicious recipe. Yummy! I hope to impress my future Mother-In-Law with my love of cooking. Hopefully she’ll be able to look past the fact that although I love it I’m not the best at it. Haha!

  7. I like the filling made from the chopped spinach, at least I got an idea what to the balance ones I have in the freezer.

  8. You make spinach looks so juicy and delicious 🙂

  9. This looks delicious, like a really really upgraded gourmet sandwich! I would love to have this, I know its delicious just by looking at it:)

  10. What a beautiful torta! I sneak spinach into many things, but I love when spinach is the star! You are absolutely right. College food will definitely make your son appreciate mom’s home cooking! I’m looking forward to trying this torta! : )

  11. Yum, that looks great, thank you for sharing!
    Aimee

  12. Wow…looks absolutely yummy

  13. Amazing! I only started eating spinach this year and I’m finding that it has a magical power to make all sorts of dishes even better. Your torta looks phenomenally delicious 🙂

  14. Lizzy,
    do you know that “Torta Rustica” are portuguese words? So maybe that is the source of this fabulous pie=torta
    Great recipe in fact 😉

  15. Oh – that is incredible! I LOVE spinach, but didn’t appreciate it until I was an adult! I started eating/making it in casseroles and then graduated to eating it all the time! This is an INCREDIBLE recipe!

    It’s one of the first things I asked my daughters-in-law when I first met them. I adore them both! One doesn’t cook and the other said she enjoyed cooking, but preferred to bake….turns out she studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris!

  16. I love this kind of savoury pies, made with active yeast: they are better in flavour! Your torta rustica con spinaci looks amazing!

  17. This sounds and looks amazing. I am working on my spinach phobia… Childhood issue, hehe.

    Maybe this will help!

  18. This is such a great recipe Lizzy! Looks amazing and would be such a hit in my house! 🙂

  19. Lizzy – wowza, wowza, wowza! Gosh, you really are an amazing cook. How beautiful is this? Oh, and it sounds delicious too!

  20. This looks stunning, perfect for a summer picnic. I love ‘rustic’ looking food, it just makes it taste better!

  21. This looks great. This includes Mantee’s favorites: spinach and ricotta. Because of that, I may convince him to eat the torta part. 😉 Thanks for the great recipe.

  22. This looks amazing! I absolutely want to try this. I love savory pies and spinach. Yummy!

  23. Lizzy look perfect and delicious! xxgloria

  24. Look at that thick dough, looks so good. I always loved spinach as a child. The weaving pattern is lovely indeed.

  25. Lizzy, this looks great! I’m always looking for new spinach recipes. Fortunately I have quite a few Popeyes in my family. 😉

  26. One word…WOW.

  27. This looks amazing!!!

  28. Family recipes passed along are usually the BEST ones! This sounds delicious!

  29. This is to die for, my favorite posted recipe of yours so far! So lovely.

  30. What a great Lent recipe. I saw something similar on Everyday Italian. Thanks for sharing!

  31. This looks wonderful Lizzy! If it ever gets cool enough to turn on the oven again I am going to try this!

  32. just found your blog!! i’m so excited to browse through your recipes!!
    -minibaker

  33. This looks really good!

  34. This looks great Lizzy! Can’t believe your husband eats this – I was sure he wouldn’t! Maybe I could make this and my husband would actually eat it then!

  35. Lizzy, you have so much patience. Look at that woven top! Amazing.
    I love spinach pies and yours looks great! wish I had a slice left for my brunch tomorrow

  36. The recipe sounds wonderful and the woven top is gorgeous.

    Lisa~~
    Cook Lisa Cook

  37. The spinach filling sounds wonderful, but I have GOT to make the bread. It has me mesmerized. I bet that there are a few other fillings that would taste great in this, also. Thank you so much for sharing something so beautiful and interesting.

  38. Wow, this looks amazing! There’s nothing like bonding over food and the love of cooking 🙂

  39. Lizzy-I must have been in a “daze” which I actually have been in the last couple days to have missed your super gorgeous Torta Rustica!
    Have to print this out and make it for family and friends…to impress!…oh, so elegant, and love the spinach filling. Lambeau looks so relaxed chilling out on the grass, in the background…such a sweetheart!
    xoxo

  40. This looks wonderful, Lizzy.

  41. This is soooooo up my alley. I love anything with spinach and cheese and bread. Bring IT ON!! You have such tasty recipes Liz. 🙂

  42. Lizzy, honestly this torta could be the cover recipe for Bon Appetit! So gorgeous and I love the spinach filling! I’m saving this recipe to challenge my bread making skills. I could eat the filling alone!

  43. So tasty and so beautiful ! We usually have this Spinach Torta Rustica for Easter; my recipe is a bit different than yours ( I use puff pastry ) but I will make your version for a change, definitely !

  44. This looks brilliant Liz, love the criss cross topping and the spinach and cheese filling sounds delicious.

  45. This looks splendid! Only if I could persuade my husband to eat spinach this way….sometimes I could trick him to eat, but often times I failed.

  46. Yum! This looks so delicious and tasty! I can’t wait to try this!

  47. This is such a fabulous recipe. My family is all high about spinach and this torta is a double happiness considering it has cheese and that’s enough to tick off as a perfect pastry in my household. And that criss cross tops it all as a store bought bought one. Awesome

  48. What a beautiful torta…love the spinach and ricotta in the filling…it sure looks super delicious too.
    Have a great rest of the week Liz!

  49. I’m a huge fan of savoury pies and tarts, and particularly recipes from the Mediterranean region. But I’ve mostly tried pies with flaky dough like phyllo, and I’m totally digging this delicate fluffy brioche-type of the dough. This looks and sounds phenomenally good!

  50. Wow – this is so fancy and looks absolutely delicious!!! I have to make this recipe. What a great addition to any meal or a meal in itself!

  51. This looks so good. I’ve seen many variations on a rustic torta but i have to say I love this one. I guess you have to love spinach, which we do! I could have that today with a tomato salad. Perfection.

  52. Your spinach tart is gorgeous! Love the lattice top and that delicious creamy spinach filling. This is one fabulous make ahead brunch idea.

  53. What a gorgeous presentation of this torta. I’m all in with the “rustic” idea. Not so sure about pulling off the “weave.” But, hey, still sheltering-in-place, you know, just ongoing.I think it’s the first time in my Life I’ve had time on my hands. And, although I’m able to fill my time easily, I might have a Go with this.

  54. Having an Italian husband, I’ve made torta rustica before but not nearly as pretty as yours. I just make mine into a roll. Yours is beautiful and would be wonderful when entertaining. I’ve added it to 4 of my Pinterest boards to inspire others as you have me. 

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