This is a classic Italian Easter pie made with ricotta, mozzarella, and deli meats. The crust is slightly sweet, something that goes incredibly well with the salty filling. It's a traditional dish that freezes beautifully and a great recipe for leftovers: ham, prosciutto, pepperoni, and cheeses. Personally, it's one of my favorite things to eat year-round.
Is it a pie or a pizza?
I think that's the first question everyone makes!
It's also called pizza chiena which means filled pizza. So even though it's made with the Italian pie crust (pasta frolla) similar, it does resemble a stuffed pizza if made with a double crust instead of a lattice. Sort of. Maybe.
Anyway, pie or pizza, this is a recipe to try as soon as you can!
It's truly delicious, and the filling can be adjusted to your palate, or to the leftovers in your refrigerator, whatever comes first lol.
The original ingredient is called basket cheese, which I never had outside Italy, but is sort of a mix of ricotta and mozzarella, two ingredients found in this recipe today.
You can buy basket cheese online.
- Pie crust: it's slightly sweet and that's one of the most interesting things about this recipe. We use the recipe for pasta frolla with less sugar than the original recipe, the one in the Best Lemon Ricotta Pie. But other pie crusts work, like the Flaky Pie Crust recipe used during the holidays.
- Ricotta: use whole milk ricotta cheese for a richer and tastier pie. Low-fat ricotta also works though the result is not as rich. If you can find basket cheese, by all means, use it, alone or together with ricotta.
- Mozzarella: it'll melt and create softness. You can buy shredded mozzarella or cut it into small cubes as I do. Provolone cheese can also work and usually comes in slices.
- Parmesan: or asiago, Reggiano, or another semi-hard cheese like Fontina. Or a mix also works very well. But I also recommend this recipe to get rid of leftovers or bits and pieces that are lying around in your fridge.
- Cold meats: Italian deli meats like ham, salami or pepperoni, and mortadella (an Italian large pork sausage that sometimes incorporates pistachios) are my favorites.
- Eggs: large, fresh ones are always the best.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Black pepper: freshly ground is always the best.
- Fresh parsley.
- Olive oil: it's a small amount and you can use other oils or melted butter. But olive is traditional.
The pie dough
We use this Italian pie crust recipe that is slightly sweet and marries so well with the savory filling. Trust me. It does.
I give instructions on how to make it in the food processor and by hand.
And it can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen for a month.
Alternatively, other recipes you can use are the perfect flaky pie crust or the basic all-butter shortcrust pastry recipe. Your favorite purchased pie dough will also work but homemade is always better.
Have the dough cold before rolling. Flour the surface as needed.
After lining the pie plate, prick the bottom with a fork and refrigerate or freeze while putting together the filling.
It's as easy as chopping cheeses and cold meats and mixing it all with ricotta and a few other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Choose ingredients that complement each other, some soft and some semi-hard cheeses and some spicier and milder cold meats.
- Don't overdo it, try to balance the flavors out. Take into account the textures and saltiness of each add-in when determining which ones to mix. You can use more or less cheese, or meat, and adjust to your palate.
Lattice or top crust
I like to make a lattice to top this pizza rustica, but you will find recipes that use a double crust. Both ways are fine. Choose your favorite.
- Lattice pie: the one I used and that appears in the images below.
- Double crust: you have to roll a larger round (bottom crust) and a smaller one (upper crust). The top round has to cover the whole filling and make sure it's not too thick so you don't have too much dough when you bite. We want the filling to shine.
Lattice pie: the dough needs to be divided into a larger and a smaller part, and the latter rolled out and cut into strips (I use a pizza cutter) that will be placed over the filling, creating a criss-cross pattern.
Intertwine the strips, starting at the center with the longer ones. Pinch the ends so they adhere to the bottom crust and keep their place during baking.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Pie dough: we use a slightly sweet pie crust, but you can also use a savory dough like the basic shortcrust pastry for quiche or the great flaky pie crust recipe we use for holiday pies.
- Make-ahead: you can make the pie crust ahead and freeze or keep it refrigerated for several days before rolling and baking. And you can freeze the whole baked pie, always well wrapped in double plastic and foil.
- Flavorings: you can add some chopped tomato or more herbs to add some freshness to the filling. Basil or thyme go very well with the rest of the ingredients.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the dough:
- 1 recipe for Italian Pie Crust (pasta frolla) using 3 tablespoons of sugar
For the filling:
- 1 pound (450g) ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino romano or asiago cheese)
- ½ cup chopped salami or pepperoni or soppressata (or a mix)
- ½ cup chopped mortadella or ham (or a mix of both)
- ½ cup diced mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil or parsley, optional
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Have ready a 9-inch pie plate or pie dish with a removable bottom, about 3-inches tall. Or a round springform pan.
For the dough:
- Divide the dough into two parts, one larger (about ⅔ of the amount) and one smaller (about ⅓).
- Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Meanwhile, keep the remaining dough (small part) wrapped in the refrigerator.
- Line the pie pan making sure you don’t stretch the crust, pierce the bottom with a fork, and put it in the freezer or refrigerator while you make the filling.
For the filling:
- Mix eggs with the ricotta cheese and olive oil to mix in a large bowl.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Take into account how salty the cheeses and cold meats you use already are.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Roll out the remaining ⅓ of the dough using a rolling pin until it's at least the diameter of the pie pan you're using.
- Cut strips of dough (I use a pizza cutter or pizza wheel but you can use a large knife). Make sure the dough is cold so it'll be easier to lift the strips.
- Put the filling in the cold pan lined with the bottom dough and smooth the surface.
- Place the strips on top of the filling, starting in the middle with the long strips and pressing on the edges of the dough where it meets the bottom dough. Remove excess dough.
- Make a criss-cross pattern, patching together strips that might break or are not long enough.
- Brush with a mixture of beaten egg and a tablespoon of milk or water if you want a shinier, deeper-colored crust. I personally don't do it but it looks nice and shiny.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, until the dough is dry and lightly golden and the filling is puffed. It might take even longer than that.
- Let cool on a cooling rack (wire rack).
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Keep leftovers refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, or in an airtight container.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Make-ahead: you can make the pie crust ahead and freeze or keep it refrigerated for several days before rolling and baking. And you can freeze the whole baked pie, always well wrapped in double plastic and foil.
Flavorings: you can add some chopped tomato or more herbs to add some freshness to the filling. Basil or thyme go very well with the rest of the ingredients.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 60
- Category: Pies & Tarts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 446
- Sugar: 6.7 g
- Sodium: 520.7 mg
- Fat: 26.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 32.9 g
- Protein: 18.5 g
- Cholesterol: 184.9 mg
Keywords: pizza rustica