Peruvian Swiss Chard Pie

December 19, 2018
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes 1 pie
Author Notes

This is an adaptation of a tradition Italian-Peruvian Swiss chard pie called pastel de acelga. It's also known as tarta pascualina in other Latin American countries, like Argentina and Uruguay. You can make the filling up to a week in advance and assemble the pie the day before you plan to bake it. It's best served at room temperature. Note: It's important to remove the ribs from the chard, as they tend to release a lot of water and can make your crust soggy. If you cannot find Swiss chard, use frozen chopped spinach instead. —Carlos C. Olaechea

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Why the Most Peruvian Christmas Eve Dinner Is One Without Peruvian Food —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Your favorite pie dough (enough for a double crust)
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus more for prepping the pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for prepping the pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 bunches Swiss chard, de-ribbed and chopped (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup white vermouth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Cook this mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes until you see it sizzle. Remove from heat and add all of the hot milk at once, whisking vigorously to combine. Place the saucepan back onto the burner and continue whisking until thickened. Add nutmeg, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Cook Swiss chard (or spinach) in a large pot with about 1/2 cup of water until thoroughly cooked but still green. Drain into a sieve and press out all of the liquid from the greens using a spoon. This step is vital so that you do not end up with a soggy crust. I find it helpful to place the cooked chard in a tea towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out the water that way. When You can no longer squeeze any liquid from the chard, set it aside in a separate bowl until ready to use.
  3. In a large skillet or pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for a couple minutes until fragrant. Splash in the vermouth and cook until it reduces slightly. Now add the chard to the pan and break it up with a spoon to combine with onions and garlic. Add all of the béchamel and Parmesan to the pan and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to avoid a skin from forming.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform (or regular) cake pan. (The springform makes un-molding the pie much easier later.)
  5. If you need to, roll out your crust so that you have two discs. The top crust should be about 9 inches in diameter. The bottom crust should be wider with enough overhang to crimp the edges. Carefully place the larger disc into the cake pan, pressing lightly with your fingers so that it covers the entire surface. Add enough filling to reach the top of the pan. (It’s okay if it goes a little above.) Now place the top crust on top of the filling. Crimp the edges together and trim off any excess. Cut wide slits on the top crust to allow steam to escape.
  6. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and carefully transfer to a cake rack to cool.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Debora Ajenblit
    Debora Ajenblit
  • Carlos C. Olaechea
    Carlos C. Olaechea
  • Tjllew
  • Annabelle
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.

5 Reviews

Tjllew February 3, 2022
I think the dough used is quite important. My friends mother uses a sandy flakey dough.. hard to describe, but is mouthwatering in this dish.
Debora A. September 20, 2020
I am originally from Argentina and grew up eating Pascualina. It is one of my favorites still and I make regularly. My mom and I add pureed carrots and mozzarella o the filing and slice 1-2 hard boiled eggs at the top of the fling before covering the tart. You can use frozen spinach instead of chard. In a pinch, store-bought dough works well.
Annabelle January 2, 2019
This was good but the proportions of the bechamel seem quite off -- 1/2 cup of flour to only 2 cups of milk makes for a sticky paste, not a cream sauce. It was still eaten up but tasted gritty to me. Next time I'll halve the amount of flour. This also needed more than 30 minutes in the oven for me for the pastry to fully cook, but that's an easy enough tweak.
Carlos C. January 6, 2019
Hi! Thank you for your comment! It is a very thick, almost pasty béchamel. It is the same type of béchamel used to make Spanish and Cuban croquetas. I would not halve the recipe. Try maybe using a 1/3 cup of flour first. If it came out gritty, you probably needed to cook the flour in the butter a little longer and cook the béchamel a little longer. It is supposed to be smooth.

As far as the cooking time, it can vary. The first several times I made it, it browned nicely in 30 minutes. However, I made it this past Christmas Eve, and it required about 10 minutes longer.

Again, thank you for your comments. This type of feedback is always helpful
Annabelle January 6, 2019
Oh fascinating! Thank you for the correction.