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Pinolata della Val d'Aveto

Pine Nut and Almond tart

Pine nuts, I'm sure you've noticed by now, are a staple of Ligurian cuisine, providing crunch and flavor (and non-animal protein) to countless Ligurian recipes. This delicious and pretty tart pairs them with a chewy almond filling and a buttery pastry crust. There is no need to toast the nuts beforehand, as they will get plenty of color while baked on the surface of the tart.

The Pinolata della Val d'Aveto holds a special place in Ligurian culinary heritage, celebrated for its unique flavors and historical significance. Originating from the Val d'Aveto valley in Liguria, this traditional cake has deep roots in the region's culinary traditions and cultural history.

The Pinolata's fame can be traced back to the abundance of pine trees in the Ligurian landscape, particularly in the Val d'Aveto area. The key ingredient, pine nuts, is a nod to the rich pine forests that characterize the region. These pine nuts, with their distinctive buttery and slightly resinous flavor, impart a unique taste to the cake.

Historically, the Pinolata della Val d'Aveto has been associated with local celebrations, festivals, and family gatherings. It has been a symbol of Ligurian hospitality, often served during festive occasions and shared among friends and family. The cake's simplicity and reliance on locally sourced ingredients reflect the region's commitment to utilizing what nature provides.


The Recipe


For the crust:

2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

⅛ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar

½ cup cold unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon, melted, for brushing

1 large egg

For the filling:

1 cup (4 ½ ounces) blanched almonds, or 1 ⅓ cup almond flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

4 large egg whites

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

To finish:

1 cup (4 ½ ounces) pine nuts Powdered sugar, for sprinkling


*Makes one 12-inch tart


1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse briefly until a crumbly mixture forms. Add egg and pulse until combined into a smooth dough.

2. Remove from food processor, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.

3. Brush a light layer of melted butter on the bottom and sides a 12-inch tart pan.

4. Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll out to about ⅛-inch thick on a lightly floured work surface, then transfer to prepared tart pan. Press to adhere the dough to the bottom and sides of pan. Trim off excess and briefly knead scraps into a ball, then press into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the dough with a fork; then transfer tart pan and leftover dough to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

6. Combine almonds and 2 tablespoons sugar in a blender or food processor and grind into a fine powder, set aside. If using almond flour, simply stir it together with 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl.

7. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and salt on low speed until frothy, then raise to medium-high speed and beat until soft peaks form. Begin to add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form. Beat in almond extract and lemon zest. 

8. Slowly fold in ground almonds, being careful not to deflate the meringue. 

9. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tart shell and sprinkle evenly with pine nuts.

10. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into 6 ribbons, ¾-inch-wide each.

11. Place them over the filling in a crosshatch pattern, pressing to adhere to the edge. Trim off excess. 

12. Transfer tart to the oven and bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes. If the surface begins to darken before the filling is set, tent the tart with aluminum foil for remaining cooking time.

13. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan before slicing and serving.

14. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.


Today, the Pinolata della Val d'Aveto remains a beloved and iconic dessert, representing the rich tapestry of flavors that define Ligurian gastronomy. One bite and it offers A momentary escape to the Italian Riviera.


Recipe from “Liguria” Recipes from the Italian Riviera  ~ by Laurel Evans 


You can find the cookbook in the following Ligurian Holiday places : 

Plinius No. 042 | Ancient Townhouse Reborn :  6 Guest | 3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms

Plinius No. 049 | Little Gem Liguria : 4 Guests | 2 Bedrooms | 1 Bathroom



Mila Groen