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Help identifying a savory Italian Easter pastry

My mom used to make a stuffed, half-moon shaped savory pastry at Easter. Phonetically spelled, she called it "cad-ja-till". She'd complain that the dough was so stiff, she had to have my step-father knead it, and I recall that the dough was very yellow (so eggs or egg yolks). I'm pretty sure that ricotta cheese was one of the stuffing ingredients.

Any help identifying this long remembered childhood treat would be appreciated (and any pointers to where to find a recipe, as well). Thanks in advance!

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  1. Okay, I'm not sure I have the answer, but maybe I can help. I pulled out my trusty Italian dessert cookbook (bought while visiting family in Naples), and there is a photo of a bunch of cakes called "Easter Casatielli" So perhaps she is using a word that refers broadly to a group of related Easter desserts? In the recipe, the dough has 15 egg yolk in it, accounting for the yellowness. Among the varieties I am seeing are orange, lard and pepper, walnuts and cinammon, salame/ham/hardboiled eggs/cheese, honey/vanilla/orange, candied fruits

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cachetes

      Maybe...it was definitely savory and I don't remember what was in the filling except for cheese. Unfortunately, there's no one left to ask in our family....I'll check out recipes for savory casatiello (the salame/egg/cheese one) and see if I can recreate it! Thanks :-)

    2. When it comes to the names of Italian foods in the United States, there is really no predicting how to identify what exactly someone is trying to say (cf. "gabagoo" vs. capicola). Given the clues you've provided, however, your grandmother was probably using her regional word for Easter pie, something also known as torta di pasqua, pizza piena, pizza chena or pizza gain(a). Any combination of those search terms should help you on Google.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        Those would not be half-moon shaped and doughey. They are more like cheesecakes than breads. I think this is one of the variets of Easter Breads.

      2. I think that you may be referring to a traditional Italian Easter pie called Pizza Rustica. There are many versions, ranging from just cheeses, to sausage, meats and vegetables such as spinach.
        My husband's Italian Grandmom made it each Easter, and he still dreams of it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monavano

          monavano: bet you're right. When I first saw this thread, it made me think of "pizza gain" that a good friend's family used to make. We are both of Italian heritage, but my family never made it. Here's an article with recipes, too:


        2. It's surely casatiello, a cheese and salumi stuffed yeast ring bread, topped with hard boiled eggs, and a beloved specialty of Naple\rs. (see www.casatiello.it, or google for many images). Pizza chiena (or filled pie) is similar; pizza rustica is rather more a savory shortcrust pie, stuffed similarly and heavily with cheeses and meats. Its sweet cousin is pastiera, the lovely ricotta and wheat pie, scented with orange flower water, that is Naples' great gift to Easter. Pastiera is also called grain pie or pizza di grano in places outside Naples and Campania, like Brooklyn. Buona pasqua a tutti.

          5 Replies
          1. re: bob96

            Note, the above link somehow got the comma trapped in it, so it comes up with an error.

            Try www.casatiello.it

            1. re: Louise

              Thanks, Louise, guess I'll need to get my Italian teacher to help me translate!

              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                Here's a concise translation, at least to cover that which the photos don't convey. Filling: 400gr (a bit less than 1lb) cheese--pecorino (not the sharp romano kind), provolone, grana padano/parmigiano, emmenthal/swiss, fontina; same amount of salami, or a mix of cured products like soppressata; 5 eggs. Dough: 2.2 lbs flour (8 cups), 4 oz lard, salt, peper, 2 cubes brewers years, salt and lots of black pepper.

                Make a yeast dough, puring into the flour well the the yeast dissolved in warm water. Knead heavily for 120 minutes; the dough should be soft. Let it rise in a covered dish, doubling in volume.

                Cut cheese and meats in small cubes, mix together, with no other ingredients.

                When the dough's doubled, remove a small ball keep araprt, and roll the remainign dough into a large rectange about 1cm (no more than 1/2 inch) thick.
                Lay on the filling, leaving an empty edge. Oil a bundt pan, and lay in the rolled dough as in a circle, oiling the ends and joining them. Let this rise again, covered, in a warm spot, till doubled, maybe in 2 hours. Top the roll with 5 uncooked, unshelled eggs, and on these place crossed ribbons of dough. Bake at 325 degrees for the first 10 minutes, and then at 375 degrees until the dough's done; test with a knife, probably 45 minutes or so. Unmold. Great warm or cold.

                1. re: bob96

                  Thanks! I appreciate the translation and the link :-)

            2. re: bob96

              Oh, that looks yummy! (do remove the comma at the end of the link). I'm more familiar with the northern Pascualina savoury pie from Liguria, also extremely popular in Argentina and thereabouts (lots of people from that region in Argentina). You can google Pasqualina for the original or Pascualina for the South American version.

            3. Niki, though it seems you're all set, I just happened to catch Ray Liotta (talk about deliciousness!) making an Easter pie in the kitchen with Martha Stewart. And I never watch her, so what a treat!


              I love that he asked if she served the dish with Crestor. ;) It did, in fact, look fabulous...I may even give this a try. I wish I had a video link. I could watch Ray Liotta all day. ;)

              3 Replies
              1. re: kattyeyes

                A little more like the Pasqualina, but less complicated and fewer layers than the one in the Italian link. A lot like the Argentine kind, and simpler Ligurian ones. But I've never seen it square: I thought it was one of those foods supposed to be round (or egg-shaped) for symbolic reasons.

                1. re: lagatta

                  Can't vouch for the shape--Ray Liotta made it symbolic for me! Seriously, though, it looked delicious. I specialize in less complicated, too. ;)

                2. re: kattyeyes

                  The same episode is going to air on Fine Living tonight (March 27, 2009) at 7:00 p.m. Eastern if anyone's interested. I'm definitely taping it! :)

                  1. I know exactly what you are referring to. My family is from Boiano a small town in Molise and my grandmother makes these every Easter. We call them Casciatellì. She makes hers with fresh ricotta and pecorino in a half moon of dough. When we were kids, she'd put chocoate bits in it to make them more appealing to us. As many replys have mentioned every region has their own take on traditional recipes so I guess you should start with what part you're family is from. Also, I know that my grandmother has modified her traditional recipes to the ingredients that were available back in the 60s when she came here resulting in dishes that taste very different from that in Italy. Both good but not the same!

                    Ingredienti: 1) ripieno: 500 gr. formaggi misti (mucca e pecora), 15 tuorli di uova, 4 albumi, salsiccia tritata; 2) per la pasta di contorno: ½ kg. di farina tipo 00, un pizzico di sale, acqua q.b., un cucchiaio di burro.
                    Stendere la pasta sottile e fare forme rotonde, collocarvi il ripieno e richiudere a metà. Spennellare con tuorlo di uova e infornare.

                    1. Yep, that's casciatelli you're thinking of. I'm Australian and my family is from a small town called Gildone in the region of Molise. Everyone in Gildone makes casciatelli in the lead up to Easter...they're awesome! My mum and nonna make them and they're all I eat at Easter time. I know for a fact that they're also made in the towns around Boiano (I noticed there was another post confirming that). Some of the ones I've had from those parts have had pieces of salami or pancetta in them....my mouth is watering just thinking about them! Buona Pasqua!

                      1. Niki, If you place your cursor over my avatar you will see an authentic Neopolitan Casatiello (Easter Bread). I spent a lot of time researching this last year, and I think pbemme is right. It's casciatelli. I'll be baking "Casatiello" this coming Saturday. Can't wait. Nine loves. Heartburn for a week. Worth it.

                        1. Hi I just came across this post and I know it was more than 2 years ago, but are you still looking for this recipe. My family makes the same thing and I have a recipe. In fact I have two, my mother's and my cousin's. I think the actual spelling of the name is casatielle or something like that. Your phonetic spelling is right on though. My mother always told me it meant "little houses." We usually made them on Holy Saturday and put little pieces of palm from Palm Sunday sticking up out of the center. Sort of like the upright part of a cross on a hill. I could never find a recipe for them outside of my family and when I asked my aunts about that they told me it was probably "just an Abruzzi thing." My family emigrated from Guardiaregia (sp). A tiny little place in Molise, just below Abruzzi.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: MargC55

                            Hi Marg,
                            Please post your recipes! My grandmother passed away in June 2009 and now only one aunt remains who makes them :(
                            I always thought that maybe the name somehow referred to its cheese filling 'cacio'. We grew up speaking a mix of dialect and Italianized American words so never really sure about some words!

                            1. re: MargC55

                              Hello!! I can't believe I found this. I was born in Guardiaregia Campobasso. Easter is coming and would love to have the recipe. My mom who used to make them all the time is falling ill and she just gave me a "general" recipe but not an exact with measurement recipe. She said I need potato, dry sausage, grated cheese, eggs for the stuffing and brush the tops with egg yolk. Would you kindly send the recipe? I would greatly appreciate it! I want to get back into the tradition of home cooking from scratch. Thank you so much!!

                              1. re: Netta62

                                Hi Netta, I'll get it out and post it tomorrow. Do you happen know the origin of the dish. I always wondered if it had something to do with their shepherding tradition. If they made this instead of the regular Easter Pie because they would be herding their animals to the valley at around this time of year.

                                1. re: MargC55

                                  I just wanted to add that the filling is probably a matter of choice. You could probably use any kind of meat or more than one kind of meat in the filling. Just keep the same ratios of meat to cheese to eggs.

                                2. re: Netta62

                                  Here's my mother's recipe:
                                  8 cups of flour
                                  2 1/2 cups of shortening
                                  3 eggs
                                  4 egg whites
                                  1 tsp of baking powder

                                  2 1/2 lb. ricotta
                                  2 lbs.diced ham
                                  3/4 cup of sharp grated cheese (Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan)
                                  3 eggs
                                  4 egg yolks

                                  There are no instructions for the dough, but I've always treated as if it were pie dough. Cut in the shortening and then add the eggs. Use water if you must. But this is a very stiff dough. I usually don't use it and just use pie crust.

                                  Just mix all the filling ingredients together.

                                  Roll the dough out, and cut into large circles using a glass or round cooking cutter. Fill each circle with an appropriate amount of filling. fold into half-moon shape and seal the edges. cut a slit in the top of each pie to vent. We place a palm cut into small pieces into the center of each pie. this keeps the vent hole from closing up and it has religious significance.

                                  1. re: Netta62

                                    Hi Netta, my grandfather was born in Campobasso before emigrating to the US in the 1940s. All my life we've had casatielli, my family pronounces it 'cajah-teel', every easter. Since my grandfather passed my uncle has taken over making it. In fact he just delivered a couple 'loafs' this weekend. While I don't have the recipe, MargC55's looks pretty close to what we have (we use prosciutto as the ham) I'm attaching a couple pics. Happy Easter!

                                    1. re: DIR_Cherokee

                                      Is that mostly ham in bread dough? I'd assume that could sit out for most of the day?

                                      I'm interested in the pizza gain with salume, ricotta and cheese in crust. I'm told nonna makes it in the morning and it's eaten later at room temperature or cold.

                                      1. re: JungMann

                                        Roxlet makes a beautiful one--have you seen it? I've always wanted to make one. Cook's Country has a recipe in their most recent issue, too.

                                        ETA: here's roxlet's recipe: