Monday, March 25, 2013

SPINACH AND RICOTTA PIE (Pizza Rustica, Easter Pie))

Y’all, I’m so excited.  I have family visiting!  My mom (Little Mama), Dad (Big Daddy), Aunt Nancy and Uncle Rick are here from Victoria, British Columbia!!!  You would think being that I live in South Florida that I would have a constant stream of visitors, but sadly we don’t.  We just live so far away, it’s actually quicker for me to fly to Europe, than to go and see my family.
Thanks for letting me share that; now on to the food.

What to make when you have all kinds of creamy, delicious, rich, ricotta cheese?  I’m thinking Spinach and Ricotta Pie...Also known as Pizza Rustica…Also known as Easter Pie.

Pizza Rustica or Easter Pie is a stuffed pie always filled with ricotta cheese and eggs, which is varied but the addition of meat, or spinach, or even with citrus.  The story is that the nuns of San Gregorio Armeno are the originators of Easter Pie, which they would make on the Thursday or Good Friday in order for the flavors to meld and serve it for Easter.

I make this pie when I’m having a brunch, luncheon or need a dish to bring to a party because it can sit at room temperature and it’s nice and sturdy so it travels well.

The dough is not fussy at all.  I’m going to call it a hybrid dough, because it’s kinda like a cross between pizza dough and pastry dough.

A food processor makes light work of this dish; I’m pretty sure the nuns would one have used if they had it available.  I used the food processor to make the dough…then I used it to mince the onions and garlic… then I used it to grate the cheese.  Be sure to use a spring form pan so that you can remove the pie.  Super easy!

Here’s what you do.

I fit my food processor with the pastry blade.  Add the semolina flour, all-purpose flour, salt, eggs and olive oil.  Turn the processor on.

If the dough doesn't come into a ball, add some water, one tablespoon at a time just until it does.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap to rest for at least 30 minutes.

The blade has been changed over to the chopping blade.  Mince the onions and garlic.

Sweat the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat, just until the onions are translucent.

Squeeze the water out of the thawed spinach.  I just the spinach in a strainer over a bowl and use a spatula to press the water out.

Add the spinach to a large bowl along with the cooked onions and garlic.

Use the food processor to grate the Pecorino Romano and mozzarella cheese.  Add that to the spinach along with the riccotta, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Finely dice some sun dried tomatoes and toss those in too.

Stir in the eggs.  That's the filling.

Cut the dough in two.  Notice that the dough is not evenly cut; two thirds of the dough is for the bottom and one third is for the top.

Roll the bottom dough out into a 16 inch circle and line the bottom of a spring form pan; be sure to bring the dough up the sides. 

Roll the remaining dough into a 10 inch circle, that is for the top of the pie.

Pour the filling into the pan, smooth the top to make it even.

Put the top on the pie.  Cut the excess dough even with the edge of the pan.

Roll the dough over to seal the edges.  Cut some holes for steam to escape.  Brush the top with egg wash.  The egg wash sealed up my holes again which caused the top to pouf up, so go ahead and put the tip of your knife back in the holes.

Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown.
Allow the Spinach and Ricotta Pie to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the pan.  This can be served warm or at room temperature, which makes it perfect for a buffet, pot luck or a picnic!

                                    SPINACH AND RICOTTA PIE (Pizza Rustica)

Serves 8 to 10

1              cup                         Semolina flour
1 ½          cups                        All-purpose flour
½             tsp.                         Salt
3                                            Eggs      
¼             cup                         Olive oil
1 to 4        Tbsp.                       Water

  1.       Add the semolina flour, all-purpose flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor that has been fitted with the dough blade.  Pulse a couple of times just to mix the dry ingredients.
  2.       Add the eggs and olive oil to the food processor and turn it on.  Work the dough just until it comes into a ball; you may need to add some water, one tablespoon at a time to achieve this.
  3.       Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes.

FOR THE FILLING (make the filling while the dough rests)

½                                           Large onion, minced
3              cloves                      Garlic, minced
½             Tbsp.                       Olive oil
2-10          oz. pkgs                   Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and the liquid squeezed out
3              Tbsp.                       Sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
15             oz.                          Ricotta cheese
8              oz.                          Mozzarella cheese, grated
3              oz.                          Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
½             tsp.                         Salt
¼             tsp.                         Pepper
1/8           tsp.                         Grated nutmeg, fresh is best
6                                            Eggs, slightly beaten

  1.       In a small skillet over medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil; just until the onions are translucent.
  2.       Now combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until everything is incorporated.


1                              Egg
1              Tbsp.         Water
1              tsp.           Sesame seeds

1.  Whisk the egg and water together to make an egg wash.


  1.       Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2.       Cut about 2/3 from the dough and roll it out to a 16 inch circle.  Lay that in the bottom of a spring form pan; bringing the dough up the sides.
  3.       Roll the remaining 1/3 of the dough into about a 10 inch circle, this is the top.
  4.       Pour the filling evenly into the dough lined spring form pan.
  5.       Place the 10 inch circle of dough on the top of the pie.  Cut any excess dough off, cut it even with the top of the spring form pan.  Fold the larger piece of dough over, on top of the pie, and crimp the edges.
  6.       Cut some slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  7.       Brush the top of the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle sesame seeds over that.
  8.       Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  9.       Allow the pie to set for about 20 minutes before removing the sides of the spring form pan and cutting into it.
  10.   Spinach and Ricotta Pie can be served warm or at room temperature.


  1. Hi Kari,
    I can imagine how excited you are about your family's visit.
    No wonder you were inspired to prepare this delicious looking recipe! The addition of sun dried tomatoes just gives an extra twist, great idea :)

  2. That is one gorgeous pie Kari! So delicious looking! I bet your family loved it - enjoy the visit!

    1. Thanks Reeni! I thoroughly enjoyed the visit with my family; although it was way too short.

  3. Well I do have to tell you that this is the most perfect looking pie I think I have ever seen! It will be perfect for our Easter lunch this Sunday. :)

    1. It really is a pretty pie thanks Cass. I hope you had a great Easter!