Growing up, one of the highlights of the Easter holiday (besides all the chocolate that I would eat) was my grandmother’s “Italian Easter Pie”. As far as I can remember, she only made this once a year and I was right there waiting for it to come out of the oven. My grandparents came from Calitri in Campania and this dish is a classic in that area. With my grandmother’s passing there were a variety of dishes that I knew I would never eat again, as my mother never really learned to make most of her mother’s rustic dishes. It saddened me to think I may have eaten my last piece of this salty, sweet delight.
About fifteen years ago I was perusing the Los Angeles Times food section one day and lo and behold-there was a recipe for what appeared to be the Easter Pie. I could just tell from reading the list of ingredients that this was it and I was off to the kitchen to attempt to recreate a childhood memory. The recipe was a winner and this pie became an Easter tradition in our household.
This year I was unable to make this dish for the holiday. I was in Arezzo and my kitchen did not have all the equipment to make this, but more than that, this is a dish to be shared and I was there alone. Today I’m having two friends for lunch and the pie is on the menu. They are from an Italian family and I’m not sure if it was something they ate growing up, but I know they will enjoy it. And I love the leftovers! I’ve changed the LA Times recipe to make it closer to my grandmother’s.
Pizza Rustica Alla Napoletana
Pasta Frolla (Crust)
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in bowl of food processor and pulse to mix. Evenly distribute butter over mixture and pulse until very finely powdered, about 10 times. Add eggs and continue to pulse until dough forms ball.
Remove dough and press into disc. Wrap and chill. Dough may be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen. If frozen defrost in refrigerator overnight.
1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 pound shredded prosciuitto
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 egg beaten with dash salt (for egg wash)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place ricotta in mixing bowl and stir in eggs, 1 at a time to make a smooth mixture. Stir in pepper, cheeses, prosciutto and parsley.
Butter 9 inch springform pan. Cut off 1/3 of dough and roll into a disc and set aside. Roll remaining dough into large disc (about 14 inches) and ease into prepared pan. Spoon in ricotta mixture and spread evenly. Top with smaller piece of dough and fold down edge (of dough in pan) to seal. Brush with egg wash. Make 4 small slits in top of dough.
Bake on bottom rack set on lowest level for about 45 minutes until filling is set and top is golden. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 10 servings.