Pastel de acelga (Chard tart) – From Italy to Peru

Italians have always been famous for their cucina povera (poor cuisine), which simply means to make the most from anything that comes to their hands or that the land gives. This type of cooking and eating was the natural result of the lack of jobs and scarce produce in some areas of the boot-like country. When Italians arrived in Peru over 100 years ago, they brought their frugal cooking style with them. But although the style remained the same, the array of exotic products they found in their new land enriched their dishes and created a varied Peruvian-Italian fusion.

An example of this is the very well known pastel de acelga (chard tart), which comes from the Ligurian torta pascualina, originally made with hard boiled eggs, and 33 layers of chard and dough (quite a job!).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, which is a Peruvian-style pesto, not long after these immigrants introduced the delicious new dish to our gastronomy, the locals quickly adapted it and made an easier, but equally delicious version. Pastel de acelga became instantly popular, and was the inspiration for many other savory tarts, such as the artichoke tart which is also widely consumed.

Here is a recipe for pastel de acelga that we love. It takes a while to make it, but to say that it is worth it, is an understatement. Not only is it healthy and delicious. It’s also incredibly practical, as one tart will last for a few days, and all you need to do is cut a slice and eat it, either hot or cold, with a squeeze of lime. This is a favorite to put in lunchboxes, bring along to picnics, have as a lunch appetizer,  as a light dinner, 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)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • Pie crust
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5–6 tablespoons iced water, for blending
  • Filling
  • 2 bunches swiss chard
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • Egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 tablespoon water)
  • 4 limes, cut in quarters
  1. For the pie crust:
  2. In a food processor combine flour, butter, vegetable shortening, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Pulse the mixture until it resembles oatmeal. Add 5–6 tablespoons iced water, one at a time, and pulse until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic film or put in a plastic bag and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  3. You can do this by hand: place flour, butter and vegetable shortening, salt and sugar in a bowl, and work with a pastry cutter or two knives until it looks like oatmeal. Add the iced water, mixing with a fork.
  4. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  5. For the filling:
  6. Trim the chard by removing the tough vein through the middle and keeping the tender leaves. Chop the chard into small pieces. Trim the spinach leaves by removing the stems and then chop into small bits as well.
  7. Rinse them under cold water and set aside.
  8. In a medium-sized sauce pan set over medium-high heat, warm the oil and then toss in the onions, and garlic. Sautee until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the chard and spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toss together and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the greens have cooked down and wilted. Take off the heat and mix in the grated Parmesan.
  9. Taste for seasonings. Sometimes as this sits, the mixture gets juicy from the water from the greens.
  10. Be sure to drain the extra juice before putting the filling into the pie (otherwise it will get soggy).
  11. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grab a pie dish and set aside.
  12. Take half of the pie crusts out of the fridge and take off the plastic wrap. Throw some flour onto your working surface and put the crust on top, dusting some extra flour on the pie crust and your rolling pin. Working quickly, roll the pie crust until it’s about the size of the pie dish, turning it over, dusting it with flour occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick to your work surface. Transfer onto your
  13. pie dish. Use your fingers to gently tuck it inside the dish allowing the rest to drape over. Use a fork and prick the pie crust all over.
  14. Pour the chard and spinach filling over the pie dough and flatten. Make 6 small holes (1 in each direction) in the filling and gently drop one egg into each
  15. one, being careful .
  16. Grab the rest of the pie crust from the fridge and repeat the process. Drape it over on top of the filling and eggs and gather the edges to seal the pie in a rustic way.
  17. Brush egg wash all over the top and place into the middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown.
  18. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving with lime wedges.





  1. Tasty, I like the mix of Italian/Peruvian! Looks Yummy!

  2. This looks amazing! Great way to get your veggies in 🙂

  3. I love acelgas. When they are cooked well, they are better than spinach. A lot better than spinach. Looking at this recipe, and how beautiful the final result is, it also occurred to me that maybe it’s possible to replace spinach with chard for the typical game day “spinach dip in a bowl of bread” recipe. I bet it would be delish!

  4. Que rico se ve!! Me encantan estos pasteles y creo que es la manera en que como vegetales.

  5. i love all things spinach especially with cheese though i’ve never tried swiss chard i am very tempted to try.

  6. Me gustan un monton las acelgas. Las como con mantequilla y huevo, o en sopas. Pero ahora con esta receta, tendre otra deliciosa manera de prepararlas. Gracias.

  7. Ufff, se me hace agua la bocaaaaaa, ahorita mismo voy a comprar todo lo que haga falta y lo prepararé! me hace acordar a Perú…. que buena idea deponer esta receta tan clásica para nosotros los peruanos y tan deli! GRACIAS Peru Delights!

    • Peru Delights says:

      Xime, cómo se extraña la comida con la que creciste cuando vives lejos de tu país. Este es un clásico, ya sabes, pero tan peruano al mismo tiempo, y tan delicioso.

  8. gracias

  9. Excellent introduction.

    But just to set the record straight italian food, in Italy, was greatly influenced by the introduction from the Americas of such essential staples as tomatoes, peppers (capsicums), zucchini and other squash family members. In fact Spanish traders brought dry noodles from the Philippines and combined with various tomato sauces in the Americas, long before tomatoes were introduced in Italy by Hispanics (peninsulares, creoles, mestizos, and so on sailing back and forth to Europe for hundreds of years before Italian immigrants ever came to Peru). Think of Tuscan cuisine without beans! and Rome without Polenta! Itally’s palate owes a lot to Hispanics.

  10. I fixed this tart yesterday, it was great!!! just like I remembered it.

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