#MeatlessMondays – Pastel de acelga (Chard tart)

Italians have always been famous for their cucina povera (poor cuisine), which simply means to make the most of anything the land gives and they can get a hold of. This type of cooking and eating was the natural result of the lack of jobs and scarce produce in some areas of the boot-shaped country. When Italians arrived in Peru over 100 years ago, they brought their frugal cooking style with them. The cooking traditions remained the same, but the array of exotic ingredients they found in their new land enriched their dishes and created a varied Peruvian-Italian fusion.
An example of this is the very popular pastel de acelga (chard tart), which comes from the Ligurian torta pascualina, originally made with hard boiled eggs, and 33 layers of chard and dough (quite a job!). As it happened with other Italian dishes in Peru, such as menestron (minestrone), or tallarines verdes, (Peruvian-style pesto), not long after these immigrants introduced the delicious chard tart to the locals, they quickly adapted it and made an easier, but equally delicious version. Pastel de acelga also was the inspiration for many other savory tarts, such as the artichoke tart you can now find in every bakery or corner store in Lima.

Here is a recipe for pastel de acelga that we love. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but also time-saving, as one tart will last for a few days. All you need to do is cut a slice and eat it hot or cold, with a squeeze of lime. This is a favorite to put in lunchboxes, bring along to picnics, have as an appetizer,  as a light meal, or as a mid-afternoon snack. You can even cut it in little squares and serve them as hors d’oeuvres in your next dinner or cocktail party.

Buon appetito!

Pastel de acelga (Chard tart) – From Italy to Peru
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Peruvian / Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup oced water
  • 2 cups cooked chard
  • 2 cups cooked spinach or kale
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chpped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 9 eggs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 slices bread (or 2 croissants) - soaked in water
  • 4 limes, cut in wedges
  1. Combine the flour, butter, and salt in a food processor (or by hand, if you don't have one), until it resembles oatmeal.
  2. Add ¼ cup iced water (and more if needed), and keep processing until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Make a ball with the dough, wrap in film or in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for ½ hour.
  4. In the meantime, remove excess water from the cooked chard and spinach, by squeezing them. Chop coarsley.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring. Turn the heat off, and add the greens, 3 eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and the bread (squeezed and crumbled). Mix well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  7. Roll half the dough on a floured kitchen counter until thin (but not transparent).
  8. Line a 9-inch baking pan with half the rolled dough, and pour the chard filling, reserving 5 tablespoons of it.
  9. Make 5 dents on the surface of the filling, and break one egg on each. Cover each egg with 1 tablespoon of the reserved filling.
  10. Roll the remaining dough, and cut a circle 1-inch larger than the pan.
  11. Put the stretched dough over the tart, and seal the edges, pressing with your fingers.
  12. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon water, and brush all over the top of the tart.
  13. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden.
  14. Let it stand for 20 minutes before cutting it.
  15. Serve with lime wedges on the side.


  1. I love the idea of a chard tart. It is almost like a quiche with a lid. 🙂 And the addition of a squeeze of lime seems like a distinctly Peruvian touch.

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