Italian Easter Dessert – Neapolitan Ricotta and Rice Pie – PastieraOn April 7, 2021 by Pam
My friend, Rita is an authentic, kind and supportive person. She is generous and honest and I love being connected to her. We talk weekly – when pandemic free at breakfast once a week, when we could, we sat on her porch for coffee once a week and during super lockdown, we talk via messenger. Whatever the weather or the times of our lives, we are there for each other. This Easter, Rita shared with me a family favourite – made at Easter by her mom (who has recently passed away), she decided to bring home the traditions and memories of the holiday by making an Easter rice and ricotta pie. I decided to make one too.
10 1/2 inch tart pan (removable bottom) sprayed with butter spray.
I used a pie dough mix from Bob’s Red Mill for gluten free but…the REAL recipe goes like this…
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 extra large egg, slightly beaten plus 1 egg yold
5-6 tablespoons of ice water
2 tablespoons of raw sugar
Put the flours, salt and sugar in a food processor or bowl – add the butter and blend. Add the egg and enough ice water to make the dough soft and dry. Do not overmix. Create a ball, wrap and chill for 30 miinutes.
I cup of long-grain rice (or orzo)
2 cups of whole milk
3 inch piece of vanilla bean, slit lengthwise (I used real vanilla extract – 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 pound of ricotta cheese, well drained
3 large eggs
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons of grated orange zest
1 cup of sugar
I tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
Pour the rice and milk into a 1-quart saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan (or add vanilla extract). Bring it to a boil. Lower the heat (medium-low) and continue to cook the rice until the milk is absorbed (about 10 minutes) but, watch and stir because it can burn easily.
Beat the ricotta cheese, eggs, orange juice and zest, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Fold in the cooked rice.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half to a 14 inch circle. Line the tart shell with one circle and fill it with the filling. You can either place the other circle on top of the pie and seal the edges or make a lattice top like I did. We brushed it with egg yolk and sprinkled it with sugar.
It bakes in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Cool it completely and then lift it out of the tart shell.
You can vary it by cooking the rice in water or adding candied fruit and raisins instead of the orange juice and zest.
It was delicious and has become a new tradition at our house – it was like eating rice-pudding pie.