These sorts of greens-based pies are common in Italian cooking, and are very similar to Easter pies, which can contain either greens bound with cheese and eggs, or meats (and eggs and cheese or savory custard). Crust-wise, these pastries can be all over the board. Standard pie crusts can be used, sheets of puff pastry, phyllo dough, you name it.
I thought it would be fun to do something a little more rustic, something I’ve seen done with classic Easter pies. Specifically, sheets of yeast dough, stretched thin by hand, buttered and laid on top of one other. It’s a glimpse into the past of laminated doughs, before the French came along with their butter pats and fancy folding techniques. You’ll need:
2 lbs. (about 20 large leaves) chard, stems removed, washed and dried
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 lb. ricotta
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1 recipe Neapolitan pizza crust
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. Add the chard and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté it about 30 seconds, until the garlic starts to give off a (more) robust odor. Add the onion and sauté 5-7 minutes until it’s translucent. Now add the chard and cook it until the liquid evaporates, about five minutes. Transfer the drained chard mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool. Chop it finely if you like, and press between paper towels to dry thoroughly.
Now preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Working with a roughly 8- ounce ball of dough, roll it or pat it out to a roughly 5″ round, then stretch it over your knuckles until it’s quite thin, about 1/8″, and lay it over a buttered 9″-10″ round baking dish. Leave plenty of excess around the sides. Press the dough lightly into the dish. Add the filling. Stretch another piece of dough very thin — to the point you can almost see through it, and lay it over the top. Brush melted butter over the dough, then add another sheet. Butter that, and do a third. Brush the top with more butter. Bring up the excess dough from the pie bottom and crimp the edge all the way around.
Allow the pie to rest about ten minutes, then bake for 45 minutes to an hour until golden on top. Cool the pie for 10-15 minutes before serving.