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Pizza Rustica, also known as Italian Easter Pie, is a traditional savory dish enjoyed during the Easter season. This double-crusted pie is packed with a rich, cheesy filling including cured meats, and spring greens. Impressive, utterly delicious, and quite simple to make!
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If you love Italian food, pizza in particular, or cured meats and Mediterranean food (much like a Mediterranean Charcuterie Board) I’m confident Pizza Rustica will be a dish you will love… and enjoy serving!
What is Pizza Rustica?
Pizza Rustica, also known as Italian Easter Pie, is a traditional savory torte, commonly enjoyed during the Easter season in Italy and in Italian-American households.
This double-crusted pie is packed with a rich, cheesy filling that often includes various types of cured meats such as prosciutto, pancetta, and salami. Cheeses also vary and traditionally include basket cheese, originating in Mediterranean regions.
Despite its name, Rustica isn’t much like the traditional pizza we know and love. More similar to a torte, filled with a light creamy and cheesy filling sometimes packed with fresh spinach, as I’ve done here.
Pizza Rustica is an impressive dish that’s fairly simple to make with ingredients easy to mix and match to your preferences. It’s one of the things I love best about this Easter dish.
Basket Cheese Substitutions
I mentioned that traditional Rustica is made with basket cheese, commonly found in Mediterranean regions. While it may be difficult to find in your market, there are some good common substitutions you can use.
Cheese that is semi-soft and mild are the best substitutions. These include:
- Swiss Cheese
- Greek Feta
- Goat Cheese
- Cream Cheese
What Part of Italy is Pizza Rustica From?
Originating from the southern regions of Italy, specifically Calabria, Campania, and Abruzzo, this dish has been prepared in various ways depending on the region, town, and family. However, the common element in all versions is a double-crusted pie filled with a cheesy, egg-based mixture.
Origins of Pizza Rustica
Pizza Rustica, commonly referred to as “Easter Pie,” has various names depending on the location. In Naples and its surrounding areas, it is known as “pizza rupiena,” meaning “stuffed pizza,” and has been traced back to the 17th century. Italian immigrants who migrated to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought their traditional recipes, including Pizza Rustica.
When Do You Make Pizza Rustica?
Pizza Rustica is served on Easter, often celebrating the end of Lent with a rich double-crusted torte filled with meat and cheesy goodness.
Although traditional for Easter, it’s delicious enough to make any time of the year!
Pizza Rustica Ingredients
Specific ingredient measurements are in recipe card below.
- Flaky double pie crust
- Large egg yolks plus an egg for brushing the pastry before baking
- Cheeses: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (or your favorite cheeses)
- Selection of Italian cured meats like prosciutto, smoked ham, and salami.
- Italian sausage, casings removed, and cooked. I’m using sweet Italian sausage.
- Spinach: you can use fresh but I prefer to use frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture. It’s easier and works well.
How to Make Pizza Rustica
Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card below.
Begin by making a simple pastry crust using a food processor or a pastry cutter (or even your fingers) to cut cold butter into a flour mixture. Divide and chill while you prepare the filling.
While the pastry is chilling, prepare the filling and then assemble the pie:
- Cook and drain the sausage.
- Combine beaten egg yolks, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, sausage, cured meat you’re using, and spinach in a large bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
- On lightly floured surface, roll out both portions of dough.
- Line the bottom of the pan with the larger piece of dough; pour filling into the pan. Then top with remaining dough, crimp the edges, and brush with beaten egg.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is golden.
- Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before releasing the sides.
To store, let the Easter pie cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic and chilling for up to to 5 days. Reheat gently to serve.
It can also be frozen. Let the baked pie cool before wrapping tightly in plastic and store, if possible, in an airtight freezer container for up to a month. You can also freeze it in its pan. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
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For the Pastry Crust:
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter cold and cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 4 tablespoons cold water or more as needed
For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces Italian sausage casings removed
- 10 ounce frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 12 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated (or Parmesan)
- 4 ounces prosciutto coarsely chopped
- 4 large egg yolks beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large egg beaten for brushing the top pastry before baking
Make the Pastry Crust
- Combine flour, salt, butter, and olive oil in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Pulse or cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal.
- Make a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture and add the eggs. Mix or pulse with a food processor until combined. Add cold water and mix briefly until it forms a ball. If it seems dry, sprinkle in more water, 1 teaspoon at a time until it comes together.
- Divide the dough in half with one portion a little larger than the other. The larger portion will be used for the bottom crust, and the smaller for the top. Wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
For the Filling
- While the dough is chilling, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and saute until golden, breaking it into pieces as it cooks; about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
- In a large bowl, add egg yolks and beat lightly. Then stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Stir in cooled sausage, prosciutto. and thawed and squeeze spinach. Stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rub a 9-inch springform pan and grease.
Assembling the Rustica
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll the larger piece into a 17-inch round. Transfer the dough to the prepared springform pan and trim the overhand to 1 inch.
- Spoon the filling into the dough-lined springform pan.
- Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round and place it over the filling. Pinch the edges to seal and then crimp to form a nice edge.
- Brush the dough with the remaining beaten egg and bake until the crust is golden; about 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan and transferring the pizza to a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve.
Egg Wash:Combine 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush this over the top pastry before baking.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.