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I subscribe to an Italian TV channel and one of the programs I like to watch is a cooking show called “La Prova del Cuoco” (The Cook’s Test). The host, Antonella Clerici, invites well known Italian chefs, as well as members of the public to cook each day. On a recent program, this girasole rustico was prepared by chef Roberto Valluzzi, and it caught my eye right away. I thought it would be perfect to prepare for my Italian chit-chat group, since we usually offer both savory and sweet things in our weekly get-together.

This not only was delicious, but was a snap to prepare and makes a really beautiful presentation. You can make the pastry with your own recipe, but for this particular day, I took a shortcut and bought frozen pastry from Trader Joe’s.

All you really need to do is sauté some scallions with spinach and a couple of anchovies (don’t worry, it doesn’t give it a fishy taste. The anchovies “melt” and add great flavor). Let the mixture cool, then mix it with ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese.

Lay out the one layer of the pastry on a cookie sheet (I used a pizza stone) and spread the filling all around.

Crimp the edges with a fork, and place a small bowl in the center. You’ll need this as a guide.

Make cuts through the pastry in even measurements, then take each section and give it a twist.

It will look like this when you’re finished. Remove the bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown. Cut into sections and let people serve themselves.

Buon Appetito!

Thanks to all you readers who left a comment on my last post. Six of you will be receiving a tin of these delicious Cornish sardines and you were picked by a random number generator. I wish I had enough tins to send to everyone who left a comment. The winners are Marie, Jan Mannino, Joanne W., Claudia, Victoria Skelly, and Gloria. Please send me an email ( with your home address so I can send you the tin. I hope you enjoy them.


Girasole Rustico (Sunflower Tart)
  • 2 round sheets of your favorite homemade pastry recipe or purchased (I used Trader Joe's brand)
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • dash of hot pepper flakes
  1. Sauté the scallions in the olive oil with the anchovy fillets, until the scallions are soft and the anchovies are almost "melted." Add the spinach, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes. Set aside to cool.
  2. When cool, add the spinach mixture to the ricotta and parmesan cheese and blend well in a bowl.
  3. Lay one layer of pastry on a round cooking sheet (I used a pizza stone). You may want to grease the cookie sheet just for extra insurance so it doesn't stick, or you can place the pastry on a piece of baking parchment paper.
  4. Spread the cooled spinach mixture over the pastry.
  5. Lay the second sheet of pastry over the spinach mixture and press gently all around, but more firmly at the edges. Seal by pressing fork tines around the perimeter.
  6. Place a small bowl in the center of the pastry, and cut all around the edges, stopping at the bowl.
  7. Pick up each cut piece and twist gently.
  8. Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the middle of the pastry and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is cooked.

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. You told me about La Prova del Cuoco some time ago, and I really got a kick out of it. Your tart is beautiful, and it seems pretty simple to prepare. What a delightful addition to a spring table.

  2. I love your sunflower!! I’ve seen something similar made in a sweet dough and then a savory tart. It looks so elegant. I’ve been dying to make one — it’ll have to wait until I get back home. You did such a fantastic job. Frankly, I prefer the savory to the sweet!!

  3. Yes ,I’ve seen it done with a sweet dough but never savory, I like this much better and easy to serve for a group! ( I might have to take the anchovies out though )

  4. This makes a wonderful looking party appetizer, or luncheon entree, Linda. I’ve seen it done by a catering chef I follow who made it with pesto and pureed roasted red peppers and a yeast bread dough, but y our version looks much easier and maybe more substantial with the ricotta-spinach filling and purchased dough. I don’t mind the anchovies –love them!

  5. Oh yum! I love this gorgeous appetizer! I made something similar but with puff pastry and nutella. This savoury version is a great idea which I will be replicating soon, I’m sure!

  6. This tart would definitively catch my attention too! It looks so appetizing… have pinned to try. Thanks for sharing another fantastic recipe ♥

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