Traditions, new and old
It’s springtime in beautiful Colorado and many of us will be celebrating Easter this weekend. For some, Easter tradition dictates serving a big beautiful ham, scalloped potatoes drenched in heavy cream and cheese, fresh green beans, and a salad… just for effect. :)
But as we sat down and planned our spring blog calendar we, of course, started thinking about pie, so we took a look at the different types of pie that are served over Easter and throughout this season.
We’d made plenty of sweet pies lately, so we wanted to go for something savory. We also wanted a pie that could be made in advance and rewarmed or served cold or at room temperature so cooks can spend more time with family or friends than in the kitchen. Plus, we really didn’t want to compete with all the peanut butter eggs, multicolored Peeps and chocolate bunnies hopping around this time of year.
Which brings us to today's recipe, Italian Easter Pie or Pizza Rustica. First let me say, none of us have an Italian nonna who might have handed down a recipe like this. Nor can we say we grew up in a neighborhood where a pie like this was common. But I'm more than willing to trade in my south Texas/German traditions and make this pie a new Easter tradition in my house. It’s really that good, and I’m one who rarely passes up a chance to eat potatoes drenched in cream!
Rich, meaty, and loaded with flavor, this southern Italian pie comes together quickly once ingredients are chopped and dough is rolled out. Don’t be tempted to add salt to the filling, there’s more than enough in all the meats and cheeses. I like to make a nice big crunchy salad with a vinaigrette made with a higher percentage of vinegar to compliment the pie. For dessert? Peanut butter eggs and yellow Peeps, of course. They are another tradition!
Italian Easter Pie
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled cut into small pieces
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 egg + 1 tbsp. milk or cream, for egg wash
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and pepper. Cut in unsalted butter until the butter is the size of peas. Make a well in the center and add the 2 eggs and half of the water. Using your hands to mix, adding small amounts of water until the dough sticks together and you can form a ball. Knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes, wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, crumbled, cooked and cooled
- 1/4 lb. prosciutto, chopped
- 1/4 lb. pepperoni, diced
- 1/4 lb. salami, diced
- 1/2 lbs. cooked ham, diced
- 12 oz. whole milk mozzarella cheese, diced
- 2 lbs whole milk ricotta
- 5 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
In a medium bowl combine cooked Italian sausage, prosciutto, pepperoni, salami, ham and mozzarella. Set aside.
In large bowl whisk together ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesan, black pepper and red pepper until completely combined. Combine meat mixture with ricotta mixture. Set aside.
To assemble: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 8-9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Note: If you don't have a springform pan, you can divide the recipe between two 9-inch traditional pie pans. Alternately, you can cut the recipe in half and use one 9-inch traditional pie pan.
Place two-thirds of the dough on a floured surface and roll out until it is 5 inches wider that the pan you are using. Carefully place the dough in the pan and press gently up the sides - try to get dough high enough to barely hang over the sides. Place pan in freezer for 5-10 minutes. (If using two 9-inch pie pans, roll out 2 circles of dough 2 inches wider than the pans and place each circle in a pie pan.
Roll out remaining dough until it is 2 inches wider then the pan you are using. Remove pan from the freezer and spoon filling on top of dough in pan, then smooth out the filling. Place the top crust evenly over filling, then roll the edges of the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp to seal. (If using two 9-inch pie pans roll out 2 circles that are 2 inches wider than the pans for top crusts.)
Cut decorative vents into the top of the crust with a sharp knife, or use a small cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the crust (we did small flowers). Brush top with egg wash and use egg wash to adhere any cutout shapes to the crust. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips, and put into preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. You want a nice golden crust. (If using two 9-inch pie pans, cut baking time at 325 degrees to 20-30 minutes.)
Remove the pie from oven and let rest 20-30 minutes before serving or let it cool at room temp for about 90 minutes and then refrigerate. Pie can be served warm or cold. The pie slices are easily microwaved.
- Many recipe for Italian Easter Pie, or Pizza Rustica, call for a yeasted crust, but we chose to use a sturdy short crust instead.
- This dough needs to be sturdy. The addition of the eggs helps it have more structure, but you will also spend a few more seconds kneading/working this dough than you would a traditional pie crust.
- I went to my local deli counter and asked the clerk to slice 1/3-inch thick slices of pepperoni and salami. It makes it easier to cut into cubes.
- Feel free to change up the quantities of meats or substitute other meats, cheeses or veggies to suit your taste.