Italian Easter Pie | Pizza Rustica

Italian Easter Pie

pizza rustica -fb Italian Easter Pie holds a solid place in the time-honored food traditions of Easter Celebrations for Italians and many non-Italians alike. Year after year, this dish for has embraced the heart of Easter,  the holiest of all Christian celebrations. It is simply DELICIOUS!

Italian Easter Pie is known by several other names such as : Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Rustica, Pizzachino, and Pizza Piena to name a few. Depending on region, each one uses local twists of ingredients and its regional linguistic dialect to the name of the dish. Ultimately, leading to the competitive regional differences in recipes and  names for  “national celebratory  dishes” throughout all  Italy.

This may be confusing or strange to those on the outside of Italy looking in, but to Italians, this all makes perfect sense and is the true “essence of being Italian“. Regionalism, is a major part of Italian life, and it most definitely carries over to Italian food as well.

Regardless of the  different names of  “Pizza Rustica” in Italy, one thing is certain, Easter is called Pasqua and Buona Pasqua means Happy Easter in Italy… no matter where you go!

This is a classic Italian Easter dish.  It’s absolutely delicious and meant to be a dish, not only to celebrate Easter, but also to celebrate the ending of LENT, a “40 day religious fast”, that takes place prior to “Easter Sunday.” A great part of the fast is giving up meat from one’s diet. Therefor the  meat and the calories of this recipe are very much apart of the “complete celebration,” especially if your trying to stay in tune with the full religious tradition behind the concept of this dish. For more on Italian Easter, foods and traditions >>>  http://www.explore-italian-culture.com/italian-easter-traditions.html

Pizza Rustica, to simply explain it, is basically an enclosed quiche, packed with some of the most delicious… Italian salami, ham, and sausage, mixed together with several Italian cheeses and bound together with eggs.  The whole thing is then enclosed with a pastry top, festively decorated, egg-washed and baked in a moderately  pre-heated oven.

Yes, one can make this without the meats and lean more toward a vegetarian dish, adding: broccoli,cauliflower, spinach, etc., instead of the meats.

I DO NOT SUGGEST trying to turn this into a low fat, low calorie dish. Don’t start substituting low-fat cheeses for the time-honored Italian cheeses the recipe calls for, don’t start pulling back on the eggs, just using the egg whites, or omitting the eggs all together. Then there is really no point in making the dish. Certain things just shouldn’t be made low-calorie and this is definitely one of them.

Easter is a time of “Uplifting and Inspiration,” in the religious context as well as in nature. It is no coincidence that this inspirational religious message of Easter’s “rebirth” takes place in a time of the year (springtime) where the exact same inspirational rebirth is taking place in “NATURE!” The birds and the bees, flowers and the trees are all very much connected to this rebuilding and uplifting energy this time of the year and SO SHOULD WE, regardless of one’s religious denomination

Only  good and positive can come from this realization. I’m simply trying to bring it to awareness, and invite those with interest to open up to the “Miracle of Easter”and Easter time celebrations. The sacrifices that take place in order for” Hope” and “New Life” to begin in a rebirth kind of way, are brought to light with Easter and it is deservedly celebrated each year at the beginning of Spring. It is no coincidence that Easter is celebrated yearly at the beginning of spring; it’s a monumental time that marks new beginnings for Christians and Mother Nature!

Inspirational Cooking is my “forte” and what I stand for as a culinary professional. There is no better time to express and share this passion than at Easter time and spring!

This is a time of year for all to enjoy the “new life” that is unfolding all around us, during this very special time of the year.  Being aware and tapping  into the uplifting  energy and message of it all will lead us to the overall possibilities of positive  change it can bring  to our lives, via being  connected to the spirit of Easter and spring, wholeheartedly… Amen!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the one…the only…Italian Easter Pie…..Pizza Rustica!

Italian Easter Pie, Pizza Rustica.

Pizza Rustica

(Yields: 8-10 portions)

Preheat oven to 375°F

Yeast Dough Crust:

  • 3 1/4 cups  Flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Leaf Lard*  or 1 1/2 tablespoons  Butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon  Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon  Pepper (ground)
  • 1 (1/4 ounce)  Yeast(active dry)
  • 1 cup  Water

 

* For those not familiar with Leaf Lard, kindly click > > > http://ow.ly/9ZX1o

Assemble dough:
  • In a cup, mix yeast and warm water together.
  • If making by hand, place flour on a pastry board and make a well. Add leaf lard (or butter), salt, pepper and yeast/water mixture.
  • If using a mixer, place flour in the bowl. Add the leaf lard (or butter), salt, pepper and yeast/water mixture.
  • Work together well until dough forms, continue working the dough until it is elastic and smooth.
  • Place dough in a deep dish, cover and allow it to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
  • When dough has risen, cut into 2 pieces.
  • Stretch one piece to fit into a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Reserve the other piece in the refrigerator for later to make top.

Place lined cake mold in the refrigerator while making the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 lbs sweet  Italian sausage links ( I personally like a mildly-spicy Calabrese sausage, but this is your personal choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1/4 lb  Prosciutto di Parma- chopped, medium dice
  • 1/2 lb  Capicola, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 lb  Pepperoni, medium dice
  • 1/3 lb  Genoa Salami, medium dice.
  • 1/2lb  Ham  regular boiled deli ham, medium dice
  • 2 lbs  Ricotta cheese, strained from it’s liquid if too wet
  • 12 ounces  Mozzarella cheese, medium dice
  • 6  Eggs- room temperature
  • Egg wash- Egg + 1 Tablespoon  Water
  • 1 Tablespoon  Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup   Romano cheese or 1/4 cup  Parmesan cheese, freshly grated. (I use a combination of both to equal the 1/4 cup.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon  Salt
  • 15-20 turns  Ground black pepper

 

Assemble Filling:
  • Cut sausage into small pieces (or remove from casings and crumble). Place in frying pan and brown lightly in 2 Tablespoons of water to render the fat. Drain and cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, salt and pepper; add eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition.
  • Add cooked sausage, prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, ham, chopped parsley and grated cheese to ricotta mixture and blend well.
  • Line the pastry crust with a single layer of the sliced capicola, all around including the edges. Any left over can be placed on top of the ricotta and meat mixture before sealing the top with pastry.
  • Once the pie is lined with the capicola, fill with the ricotta and diced meat mixture.
Closing with the pastry top:
  • After filling the dough lined pan, stretch second piece of dough and place over the filling, pressing the edges closed. Be careful not to tear the dough. The top must be sealed.
  • If there is a lot of excess dough left on the edge, carefully trim some, but leave enough to flute the sealed edge. At this point any extra dough can be used to decorate the top of your pizza rustica.
  • This is fun for the kids! Make some flowers, bunny rabbits, Easter egg shapes, etc.; use your Easter imagination!
  • I like to brush the crust and the decorations with a bit of beaten egg wash before baking, to give it a beautiful  glossy finish.

To Bake:

  • Bake the pie in preheated 375°F oven for 45-50 minutes. Test with  a knife or wooden skewer . Pierce the pie after 45 min, midway down it’s center, hold there for a minutes, remove the knife or skewer, and touch the back of you hand, if it feels hot, it is done, if  it is just slightly warm or semi-cool it still needs at least 10 minutes more.
  • Once done, remove pie from oven and let settle for about 10 minutes before slicing, if serving warm. Otherwise, let pie cool completely and refrigerate.

 

   Pizza Rustica, can be served warm or cold. I personally like it warmed up to be able to enjoy all the flavors of the delicious meats and cheese better. The warming up, wakes up the flavors tremendously!

   Happy Easter to All ~Buona Pasqua a Tutti!

  • http://cjtittle.blogspot.com cath

    “Certain things just shouldn’t be made low-calorie and this is definitely one.”

    You are absolutely right! There is nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious traditional dish, the way it was intended to be made, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • http://www.redsroost.blogspot.com Kim (Foodin New England)

    I usually don’t mess with perfection, and i can’t see making this low cal, low fat. I knew i did not want ham for Easter dinner, and this is PERFECT!!!
    Thank you for the history, info and gorgeous photos and recipe!! Bookmarked!

  • vivian

    I was thinking of making individual pies in a muffin pan. Do you have a modified recipe ? Yours is the closest I have seen to my ancestors recipe. I have nver tried this recipe on my own wohtout my mother supervising my every move so I am a bit nervous to be changing it up. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank You.

  • admin

    Hello Vivian,
    I can come up with a solution to your question though, I do not have an individual, Easter pie recipe per-say. I suggest you make the recipe as is… the dough and filling. Line your individual molds (muffin pan) with the crust. Follow the recipe, exactly the same. If you run out of dough, just make more and keep going till you have completed the number you require for your guests. Keep an eye on the baking time they will cook faster now.
    Let me know if this is helpful. Glad to hear this is a close recipe to you relatives, where were your relatives from?
    Happy Easter~ !
    Franco

  • admin

    Very nice Comment Kim. :)

    This recipe will definitely remove the need for an Easter ham in a very delicious way.
    Enjoy~ Happy Easter!

  • admin

    Cathy, you got my point completely :)
    I hope others will feel as you do too, when it comes to enjoying food while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

  • http://www.savoringeverybite.wordpress.com Linda

    This is a beautiful post along with a wonderful recipe! I never approve of replacing any ingredient with low fat/no fat fake food! Something that tastes this good can be savored and enjoyed without overindulging! I am definitely going to try out your recipe! Happy Easter to you!

  • Kimberly Kuhn

    WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL!!!! My mom often makes this recipe and does a little of this and that. It was nice to have an actual recipe to work from and it turned out like perfection. :) Great Easter Eve dinner and will be reheated for Easter morning breakfast. THANK YOU!!!

  • Lisa

    Pizza Rustica Story,

    Sitting in my office this week, I over heard my boss say, “I need a recipe for Pizza Rustica”. I jumped up and showed her your beautiful website with the number one featured recipe for Easter. She is making for her husbad this Easter! I will keep you posted on the outcome. Tx’s

  • franco

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing how my pizza rustica post saved the day. Very cool. Hope your boss gave you the rest of the day off :)
    How did it turn out?

  • http://www.clarasdesignercakes.com Clara Gold

    Ciao Franco,

    Thank you so much for the delicious ‘Pizza Rustica’ recipe. I made this dish for my father on Easter Sunday. It turned out beautifully! The recipe was very quick and easy to follow. The end result was fabulous. Not only did it look great, but it tasted even better.

    The following day, we fought over the leftovers. The flavors seemed to blend together even more overnight. We warmed it up and enjoyed it for lunch the next day. My five year old loved it and we all know that kids that age tend to be very picky eaters. He ate his portion and then took more from my plate!

    I did make a few minor changes. I used Whole Foods’ mild chicken Italian sausage(because they are less fatty and very well seasoned), and replaced the mozarella with ‘Provola’, a smoked mozarella type cheese in it’s place. The latter imparted a lovely smoky flavor. While it isn’t always available, provolone cheese can offer a bit of the same. The best can be found at Alleva in NY’s Little Italy district just south of Soho.

    BTW, the recipe for the crust worked beautifully. I used a little less yeast as you suggested since it was very humid here on Easter Sunday. I have to say that this particular dough really does work best for this dish because it did not crack in the slightest and baked up very nicely. This is critical since it has to be able to hold up well in order to maintain the ingredients contained within. Even the tiniest crack in the dough would allow the cheese and egg to leak out.

    I have added this recipe to my personal collection of favorites. As a cookbook fanatic, this is a place of honor! Thank you, Franco, for taking the time to patiently write out all the steps, and for taking the time to share additional tips to ensure a delicious end result. My dad absolutely loved it. And Lord knows a well fed Italian man is a happy one!

    Grazie, Caro.

    Sincerely,
    Clara

  • Tonya

    I wanted to thank Chef Franco for encouraging me to make the “Pizza Rustica” I am currently a culinary student and enjoy making new and different things, I made this for my husbands family whom are Italian and it was a great success! It looked beautiful and tasted fabulous! The whole family were fighting over left overs and of course grandma won.

    Thank you Chef Franco you are a fabulous person and love your recipies, can’t wait to execute the next one.

  • Pingback: Inspirational Cooking | When Recipes Just Aren’t Enough | Franco Lania - Master Chef

  • Diana

    My boyfreind is Italian ,an his mother makes the Easter meet pie every year an every year I ask her for the recipe she’s always gives me the run around & says stuff like I’ll just make u a pie .I never get a pie or recipe. So what I did this year I looked it up on line, an picked this recipe . O. M. G it was amazing and a hit

    Diana

  • Franco Lania

    Hello Diana,

    I am very pleased to hear that you came across my Italian Easter pie recipe while searching for a recipe on line. Now you can tell your boyfriends mother that you have a secrete and delicious Easter pie recipe too. And if she wants your recipe she will have to share hers finally.
    You have some leverage now!

    Glad you liked the recipe and thanks for taking the time to write me.

    Sincerely,
    Franco

  • Nicholas Capozzi

    This is the best version I have seen, closest to the version my family in Italy uses. It is the best I have found to the REAL Pizza Rustica. The entire page is great due to the back-round given. You can restassure this is top drawer.

  • http://cheffrancolania.com franco2

    Hello Nicholas,

    This Pizza Rustica recipe is absolutely delicious. The dough is very easy to work with and bakes up beautifully.
    If you try making it for Easter this year let me know how it turns out for you.

    Happy Easter!
    Francol

  • Josephine

    My family makes a variation of this pie every Easter as long as I can remember. My Mom always called it “bato” or “batel” and always put a cross on top of it to “ward off the devil”. Of course, she made it on Good Friday, so the temptation and willpower was even greater because we coldn’t eat it until Saturday. Today, my two brothers, mother and daughter compete as to whose looks better, makes more or tastes better. Yes, they usually makes some hot and some mild. Our family recipe includes italian sausage, ground beef, eggs (hard boiled and raw), ricotta and romano cheeses. My eldest brother made some a couple of months ago (February), because “he had a taste for it” and proceeded to tease all of us by sending a picture via email. My question to you is: have you ever heard the pie referred to as “bato” or “batel”?

  • http://cheffrancolania.com franco2

    Hello Josephine,

    This is a really nice comment. It’s the stories like these that make these holiday dishes so very special. I want to thank you for taking the time to share your story and connection to Pizza Rustica.

    As for the the dish being called “bato” or “batel” I honestly can’t say that I have. This sounds very much like dialect words in Italian. What part of Italy did your family originate from? Sicily?

    Italy is a country that is very regional and from town to town names of things can drastically change and with the old Italian dialects it’s even more the case.

    I am interested to know what part of Italy your family was from. I also will check into these two words.

    Have a wonderful Easter

    Buona Pasqua,

    Franco

  • Debbie

    My family has made something like this pie for years and years but mom has passed away without writing it down. This recipe is close but in no way does this make one 9-inch pie. I made the recipe exactly as you had it posted here and had more than enough to make two very generous 9-inch pies. The two pounds of sausage is almost enough to fill one pie in itself! Are you sure about the quantities here???

  • http://cheffrancolania.com franco2

    Hello Debbie,

    I am glad you made the recipe. The recipe should say two 9in pans. The extra pastry and filling can always be saved for about 5 days in order to make another one.

    Thank you for your reply. Hope you found the end result to be delicious!

    Sincerely,
    Franco

  • Guest

    Franco,
    I grew up with this beautiful tradition and this is the first time I am making it myself.
    My mother always used a rectangular baking dish and I would like to honor her tradition.
    Will your recipe work in a rectangular dish?
    My father was born in Gaeta and my mother’s people came from Terracina.
    Thank you for your recipe.
    Buena Pasqua!
    Lucille

  • lucille carberry

    Franco,
    I grew up with this beautiful tradition and this year I am making it for the first time.
    My mother always used a large rectangular baking dish. I would like to honor her tradition.
    Will your recipe work in a rectangular dish?
    My father was born in Gaeta and my mother’s people came from Terracina.
    Thank you for your recipe.
    Buona Pasqua!
    Lucille

  • Franco Lania

    Hello Lucille,

    This Pizza Rustica recipe will adapt nicely to a rectangular baking dish. Just be aware that the cooking time may change, depending on the size of your pan and whether or not you use all the filling. This recipe is a wonderful Italian Easter tradition and I’m glad you’re going to keep it going.

    Buona Pasqua to you, too!

    Franco

  • Donna Cheatham

    What would you serve as sides to this awesome dish?

  • Joseph Picone

    My family is 100% Italian on both sides from Chicago (originally from Sicily an Milan). We called this dish “goutsone” or “coutsone”. Everyone knew the name, but no one knew how to spell it or what it stood for. Any ideas?

  • http://francolania.com/ Franco Lania

    Hello Joseph,

    The names that you mention here for pizza rustica are most definitively derived from Italian dialect. That’s the amazing this about Italy. The names for things change drastically from region to region and even more so from dialect to dialect. I’m 100% Italian heritage too and I’ve only know this dish as Pizza Rustica, but I have many Italian friends that call it by a slew of other names as well. I wish I could help you out more with those names.

    As long as we’re talking about and eating the same delicious Easter pie I think we’re all on the same page.

    Have a Happy Easter ~ Buona Pasqua!

  • http://francolania.com/ Franco Lania

    Hello Donna,

    Happy Good Friday,

    The side dish I suggest to accompany a Pizza Rustica would be a simple spring salad tossed nicely with a piquant vinaigrette.
    Happy Easter!