Pizza Rustica – Italian Easter Pie

Pizza rustica is traditionally served in many parts of Italy, such as Sicily, Naples and Liguria, as the first course on Easter Saturday to break the Lenten fast or to begin an Easter Sunday feast.   The meats and cheeses utilized vary by region and even family, so feel free to substitute in your favorites as long as the flavor profile and consistency are similar.  I have not found any versions of this recipe without prosciutto.  A few add hard-boiled eggs, which is a nice touch as eggs are often utilized to represent rebirth.

The pizza rustica is VERY filling – many people (not me) are sated by a small slice.

When dicing the ham be sure to cut it into small cubes – you don’t want the filling to be ridden with large, clumsy chunks.  If you use fresh mozzarella, cut that into small cubes as well.  If, on the other hand, you opt for the drier and relatively taste-free packaged mozzarella, you should shred it on the large holes of a cheese grater, likewise the asiago.  The Parmesan should be finely grated rather than shredded.

Lastly, I realize the use of a store bought crust is a sign of serious weakness of will (laziness) on my part, but when I make my own I end up with: dough and flour all over my apartment, dozens of extra dirty dishes and an inferior crust.  If you enjoy making your own, don’t let this crust-challenged corner cutter stand in your way.  Most recipes call for Pasta Frolla for the dough, often with a hint of lemon peel added.

Meat Pie!!

Meat Pie!!

Ingredients:

2             Pie Crusts (one for the bottom and one for the top)
2 TB       Lucini Lemon – Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1  C         Ricotta salata or Italian Basket cheese (shredded)
1/2 Ball  Fresh Mozzarella cheese (cubed small)
1 C          Fresh soft Ricotta cheese
1 C          Asiago or aged Provolone (shredded)
1/2 C     Lucini 3 Year Organic Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)
3             Eggs
1/4 LB  Mortadella or italian ham (1 piece diced small)
1/4 LB  Prosciutto (1 piece diced small; NOT sliced)
1/4 LB  Spicy salami (1 piece calabrese or soppressata; diced small)
2 TB       Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil over the bottom of the pie crust and massage the oil into the crust.

Break up the ricotta salata or basket cheese into a large mixing bowl.  Add the meats, fresh mozzarella, Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano and stir until evenly distributed.   Season with pepper and/or paprika to taste.  Beat the three eggs, mix in the soft ricotta and pour over the mixture.  Stir well until the filling is dense and thick enough to stand a spatula or wooden spoon in, but it not so thick that you can’t incorporate the ingredients evenly.

Pour the filling into the bottom crust and use the back of a wooden spoon or your fingers to spread it evenly. Top carefully with the other crust – do not tear this crust.   Gently press it directly against the surface of the filling.  Trim the top and bottom crusts that hang beyond the pan so that only 1 inch of overhang remains, then press them together and fold them in toward the center of the dough to form an edge.  Press down on the rolled edge with the tines of a fork to seal and form the crust.  If desired, use the leftover dough to make Easter cutouts (bunnies or eggs, for example) to decorate the top of the pie.  (This is a great way for children to help out in the kitchen!)  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the top crust.  (This is NOT a great way for children to help out in the kitchen!!)

Bake, for about an hour, until the top is golden.  Remove and check to see if the sides of the crust are golden.  If not, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and return the pie to the oven until the crusts are golden – this should be less than 5 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes or until the sides of the pan are not too hot to touch.  If using a premade crust or traditional rectangular/square/round pan do not attempt to unmold – simply present in the cook vessel.  If using a springform pan, remove the sides and carefully transfer the pie to a large plate or platter.  The presentation will be improved with the latter and everyone will know you labored over your own crust!

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