Italian Easter Pie holds a solid place in the time-honored food traditions of Easter celebrations for many Italians and non-Italians alike. Year after year, this dish has embraced the heart of Easter, the holiest of all Christian celebrations. It is simply DELICIOUS!
Italian Easter Pie is also known by several other names such as: Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Rustica, Pizzachino, and Pizza Piena to name a few. Italy, as most know, is a country where names of certain dishes change drastically from region to region.
Pizza Rustica, to simply explain it, is basically a 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 pie is enclosed with a pastry top, festively decorated. Yes, one can make this without the meats and lean more toward a vegetarian dish, adding: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc., instead of the meats.
However, I DO NOT SUGGEST trying to turn this into a low-fat, low-calorie dish. Certain things just shouldn't be made low-calorie and a Pizza Rustica is definitely one of them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you my Italian Easter Pie... Pizza Rustica!
(Yields: 8-10 portions)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees 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
Assemble the dough:
- In a cup, mix yeast and warm water together.
- 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 -- 1 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
- 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.
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.
- Bake the pie in preheated 375 degrees 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.
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!