Savory Easter Pie, Pastiera (Torta Rustica)
In preparation for Easter celebrations? It's nice to come across something I have had out of my Grandmother's kitchen. My Nonna Barbara had a kitchen rich in Southern italian tradition. No wonder, she was from Naples. I particularly remember the smells coming out of her kitchen at Easter time, that could lure anyone within a mile of the house. She still cooked everyday although she helped out in her son's bakery on 116th street and 2nd avenue in New York, on a daily basis, You would always find her smiling in the window of the bakery luring patrons by offering them a taste. Her infectious smile was hard to pass up and so were those sugared donuts. I could remember getting off the 3rd avenue Sunday stopping by for a huge bag of pastries to go. Her Easter pie was like a brick in a box. Of course it could feed an army. She would be quick to say, that the very traditional crust was originally made up of milk, honey and flour. I am not sure how or why this pie has changed over the years. It is not a thick cake by tradition, but rather a thin layer of flavors coming together to merge as one. Today, a simple Pate Brisee or Buttered pie crust, works wonders, when your kitchen doesn't allow for a complexity of ingredients. A fresh pie crust is always best and I always have them prepared for sweet and savory, ahead in the freezer, ready to go.
In order to understand this savory delight and it's montage of caloric ecstasy, we must look at it's history. Originally made with pastry cream and eggs, It was used to celebrate Roman weddings as a sign of Fertility and presented as a gift to the bride and groom in celebration. It was also used in Pagan celebrations as sign of the celebrations of Springtime. Fresh Ricotta and cured meats that were left over from the cooler months, were all added to signify the richness and abundance of the on coming Spring and Summer seasons. So, I pose a question to all you following me here. How did we become a society of over processed foods and caloric content? Perhaps we need to take a look back at our ancestors again, their joy of life, and celebrate today and everyday! By all means, have yourselves an extra piece.
To all of you around the world, Buona Pasqua! HappyEaster!
Sunday at the Giacometti's
(This recipe can be prepared a day ahead)
Easter Pie (Torta Rustica)
One tart pan, 8 inch, preferably, non stick.
One baking sheet
One 8 inch Pate Brissee
6 ounces boiled Ham cubed in tiny pieces
6 ounces Genoa Salami cubed in tiny pieces
6 ounces Capocollo cubed in tiny pieces
15 ounces of Whole milk Ricotta
6 ounces Mozzarella (I used a few Bocconcini)
One pinch of ground Nutmeg
2 large eggs
4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
handful of Parsley chopped fine
Take out your ingredients about 30 minutes before you are planning to prepare your pie. Prepare you pie crust. Pre heat your oven to 350F degrees. Roll out your pie crust, rather thinly. Line your pie crust along the pan. Remove the excess by rolling your pin over your edges. Then, with the remaining pieces combine again and roll out. You may need additional flour to keep your pie crust from sticking. If you not particularly good at rolling out, keep some extra pie crust on hand. Combine all your ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Place your pan right on top of your baking sheet. Bake your crust 10 minutes. Gently pour your ingredients into the pan and smooth evenly With the remaining crust, roll out again and gently cover your pie. With the edge of your fork, press some holes, gently through the middle to allow air to escape while baking.
Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and inflated.
Let cool, about 30 minutes before serving.
If you made ahead, remove from refrigerator and warm up to 200 degrees.