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Mar 30, 2011 11:46 AM

Pizza Rustica

We're about a month away from Easter, and my thoughts are turning to Pizza Rustica. We managed somehow to make one in Egypt last year (using all our hoarded salami and prosciutto), and despite the mediocre frozen ricotta, it turned out really well.

In today's N.Y. Times, they published the recipe from The Cake Boss, and I was surprised at how similar it is to mine. This recipe makes a huge Pizza Rustica, and mine makes one large one, but with the exception of mine using sausage and his using cooked ham, they are almost identical.

From The NY Times
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound chilled salted butter, cut into large pieces
5 large eggs, beaten
12 ounces prosciutto, in 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces boiled ham, in 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces pepperoni, in 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces soppressata, in 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces mozzarella, in 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces provolone, in 1/4-inch dice
2 pounds ricotta
4 ounces grated pecorino Romano
10 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg, beaten, for brushing crust.
1. For the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together 6 cups flour and the salt. Using a pastry cutter, large fork, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and knead for 1 minute. Add about 1 1/4 cups ice water, a little at a time, to form a cohesive dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it forms a large smooth ball, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

2. For the filling: Mix the meats, cheeses, the 10 eggs and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into two pieces: two-thirds for the bottom crust and one-third for the top. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion of the dough into a rectangle to line the bottom and sides of a 10-by-15-inch glass baking dish, with some overhang. Add the filling and smooth it lightly. Moisten the edges of the dough with a little water.

4. Roll out the remaining dough to cover the top of the dish with some overhang. Trim off excess dough and crimp the edges to seal. Poke several sets of holes across the top with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush top and edges with the beaten egg, then return to the oven until golden brown, another 45 minutes. Let pie cool completely before serving.

Yield: One 10-by-15-inch pie.

My Pizza Rustica



3 lbs Ricotta
1/4 lb provalone
1/2 large mozzarella
3 eggs slightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan


1/4 lb pepperoni
1/4 lb prosciutto
1/2 lb Genoa salami
1/2 lb sweet sausage browned in 2 tablespoons white wine, crumbled

Chop all filling ingredients finely, & mix together.

Pie Dough

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 lb butter or lard or Crisco cut into cubes, then put in the freezer to get ice cold
2 eggs

Stir flour, salt & sugar together. Work shortening of choice into flour, mix the eggs in and add as much additional ice water as needed so that the dough comes together. Divide pat ¾ of the dough into a flat disc, do the same with the other ¼, wrap in saran and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Use an 8 or 9 inch springform pan, using the larger amount of dough for bottom & sides, ¼ for the top. Fill with the cheese/meat mixture, but don’t pack or compress it, nevertheless making sure that there are no air bubbles without filling over-full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1½ hours.

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  1. I remember the picture you posted of yours--you should repost it to inspire others. Maybe this is the year I give your recipe a whirl because it sounds OH SO GOOD to me! That or the Ray Liotta/Martha Stewart show one I salivated over from a couple of years ago (the pie AND the man!). Nelly Nel, are you reading this?! ;)

    3 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      Thanks, kattyeyes! This is the one I made in Egypt -- under less than ideal conditions!

      1. re: roxlet

        What was the difficulty? Was it getting the pork products like prosciutto? Or the cheeses? Poor oven? No springform? Do dish!

        1. re: pdxgastro

          Pork products in Egypt -- virtually none whatsoever. We found one store, Oscar's, that sold boiled ham and Canadian style bacon, but that was it. And those products were sold in a separate area in the store. Oscar's was located in an area of Cairo called Heliopolis that was about 45 minutes away from where we were living (apparently it was near a fairly affluent Christian community, which accounted for the pork. We were able to get some OK mozzarella, but the ricotta was pretty poor. It had been frozen so it had a weird grainy texture. There was no provolone that I could find, although I did have a fair amount of Romano, which I used liberally to up the flavor, and which I could never find again. In one of our trips home, we had brought prosciutto and salami with us, and that was all we had for the meat. I did find a spring form pan earlier in the year when I attempted to make a cheese cake, so I had that. My oven! What a disaster that oven was! It had no thermostat, so the temperature would just keep on going up. I had brought a probe thermometer with me, and I would put it in the oven and then fiddle with the door of the oven letting some of the heat out. I surprised myself by even making a pretty good chocolate cake that way. Cookies were pretty easy since they cook for such a short amount of time, but the Pizza Rustica was difficult since I had to keep a constant eye on the thing for a fairly long period of time. It turned out surprisingly well, all things considered, and we devoured every last bite.

    2. the best, and most elegant, pizza rustica i ever had was in somerville massachusetts, at the now defunct la contessa bakery in davis square.

      felix added cracked black pepper to the dough.and as for the filling, he stripped it down to the basics: eggs, ricotta, parm, fresh cheese (instead of mozzarella), prosciutto and soppressata.

      proving once again, less really is more.

      6 Replies
      1. re: wonderwoman

        What's mozzarella if not fresh cheese? Last year I only used prosciutto and soppressata, since that was what I was hoarding. It was delicious, but seriously, not that dramatically different.

        1. re: roxlet

          I make mine layered, I like to add in some basil, roasted peppers, and spinach. I think I may have to make this for Easter, it has been awhile. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

          1. re: roxlet

            there's a fresh cheese that comes in a little basket. it's not a melting cheese, and is a little softer than even fresh mozzarella, certainly more so than the shrink-wrapped stuff.

            as for felix's is was dramatically different than the ones i had that had been made leftover cold cut ends that had been frozen for months. matter of taste, i suppose.

            and, it wasn't too salty, which many pizza rustics are.

            1. re: wonderwoman

              Ricotta? Where I buy ricotta, it comes in a basket, and it is so thick, they actually slice it to order.

              1. re: roxlet

                it's not ricotta and it's not mozzarella. growing up, we called it fresh cheese.

                anyway, that's what felix told me he used, and i liked version best.

        2. I can't stand the Cake Boss (worked near Carlo's for 10 years, it was good when the father was alive) but theirs is a terrific Pizza Rustica, I have to give them that. I'm sure yours tops theirs by a mile.

          2 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            Carlo's does look like the real thing. As I said, it is very close to what I make. Growing up, we would actually make about a dozen pies (more like pies than the way I make it in a spring form), and various relatives would wait for their pie, or half pie, depending on the pecking order. We would always make them on Good Friday, so you couldn't taste anything until Saturday. That was always our breakfast on Easter Saturday -- a slice of Pizza Rustica.

            1. re: roxlet

              Sounds great. Such a nice tradition. Love the pecking order, the same thing with my mother's fruitcakes!

          2. Roxlet your post brings back such wonderful Easter memories for me. Several of my older cousins and aunts were marvelous cooks and their specialties were baking savory pies and sweet pastries. I don't remember my mother baking specifically at Easter because since that dinner was at our house, the cousins and aunts supplied all the baked goods from pasta to dolce. Mum made the sauce and roasts.

            They would begin to arrive after Mass and one of the first things to appear was the Pizza Rustica. In those days we fasted before Mass so we were famished when we returned home. That's when the Easter feast would begin...with the savory Rustica. There were several other pies too but the sweet ricotta one would be for dessert. The Pizza Rustica was delicious and it seems to me that the recipe is pretty much like yours.

            I've never made this pizza. My specialty is the braided Easter bread with hard-boiled eggs. Over the years I have made a few different versions of the PR but nothing matched those of my relatives.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              I am going to post a recipe for Easter bread that I promised coll I would last year. It is incredible, and one that was made by my Aunt's mother-in-law. They are all long-gone now, but I think of them every year when I make this bread. It calls for -- and works best with -- fresh yeast, but I have made it with regular yeast. I think I am going to make an extra effort to find fresh yeast this year to make it. I will post it soon, Gio.

              Yes, we had to fast before Easter mass on Sunday, and we'd tear into the Pizza Rustica as soon as we'd come through the door!

              1. re: roxlet

                Looking forward to the Easter bread recipe - I've made a colomba de Pasqua a couple of times, but the recipe is from Family Circle!

                1. re: buttertart

                  This is nothing like a colomba de Pasqua. It is dense, almost cake-like with a lot of eggs and whiskey or brandy in the dough. When it's toasted, the smell is heavenly. It lasts forever since it has very little yeast for the volume of bread, and undergoes a very slow rise.

            2. Yes, I'm thinking about it, too! My recipe is similar to yours, but no pepperoni (I use mortadella, prosciutto, sausage and either salami or soppresata). Also making Torta di pasqua (no meat, with swiss chard, spinach and eggs on top, and of course cheese!), which I've never made before. I'm making three of each. Can't wait!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: italia84

                Where is your torta di pasqua recipe from?

                1. re: italia84

                  I think the beauty of it is layering what you want. With the right color food, it's beautiful when it's sliced, too. I love that it can be as complicated as you want (making your own dough, ricotta, mozarella, etc.) or as simple by buying all the piece parts and just assembling.