Sometimes called Pizza Rustica, this classic Italian Easter Pie can only be described as a quiche on steroids. Packed with Italian meats mixed with two types of cheese and bound with eggs, this stunner of a pie is traditionally served to celebrate the end of Lent. Here, I’ve created a woven Easter basket and spring flowers design to welcome the first signs of spring after a long winter.
Easter Basket Pizza Pie
- 1 double crust recipe Savory Pie Dough See recipe under Pie Doughs
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in half and deseeded
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 6 oz (170 g) Italian sausage, casings removed
- 4 large eggs, divided
- 10 oz (284 g) high-quality ricotta cheese, either homemade or store-bought
- 6 oz (170 g) mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch (13-mm) cubes
- 6 oz (170 g) smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 oz (170 g) sopressata or Genoa salami cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tsp milk
- 3 oz (85 g) prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 10 oz (284 g) frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed to remove excess water
Make the Savory Pie Dough
Make one double crust recipe of the Savory Pie Dough. Instead of dividing the dough into two equal discs, cut the dough into a 3/4 size portion and a 1/4 size portion and shape into discs. Place both discs in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes before using.
Make the Pie Shell
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Cut another piece of parchment 8 X 12-inches (20 x 30-cm) and place it inside the loaf pan with an equal amount of overhang on both sides of the pan. The parchment will serve as handles to help you remove the pie from the pan later. Set the pan aside.
Remove the 3/4 portion of Savory Pie Dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out to a 13 X 16-inch (33 X 41-cm) rectangle, approximately 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. If your dough has become to soft to handle, return it to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill before proceeding.
Gently fold the pie dough in half lengthwise and again widthwise transfer it to the loaf pan. Gently unfold it and fit it to the inside of the tin, pressing the dough into the edges and bottom of the pan, leaving any overhang and using a scrap piece of dough dipped in flour to remove any air bubbles and checking for any tears or holes. If the dough tears, simply patch it with a scrap piece of dough. Trim the dough overhang 1 inch (3 cm) beyond the rim of the loaf pan. Gather the leftover dough scraps together and set aside. Place the lined loaf tin in the refrigerator to firm up while you make the twists and decorations.
Make the Twists and Decorations
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Remove the 1/4 size disc of dough from the refrigerator. Add the scraps from the first disc to the bottom of this disc and roll the dough out to a 10 x 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) square, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. With a lattice cutter or a sharp knife and ruler, cut twenty-eight 1/4 X 10-inch (6-mm x 25-cm) strands. Lay two of the strands horizontally in front of you, about 1-inch (3 cm) apart. Pinch the strips together at both ends. Gently twist the strips in opposite directions until you have a spiral. Pinch the top and bottom of the twist to keep it in place so it doesn't untwist when you let go. Use this technique to create a total of fourteen twists. Place two of the 10-inch length twists on the baking sheet. Cut the other twelve twists in half to create twenty-four twists, each 5 inches (13 cm) in length. Add these twists to the baking sheet.
From the remaining rolled-out dough, cut an assortment of flower, leave and butterfly cut-outs. (Depending on the size of the cutouts, you will need 16 to 24 in total.) Add these to the baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator.
Make the Filling
Preheat the oven to 400˚F (205˚C). Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Place the red bell pepper halves on the tinfoil-lined sheet and roast them for 20 minutes, until they are soft and charred. Let the peppers cool, peel off the skin and slice each half into 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook through, using a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, until no longer pink remains, approximately 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together three of the eggs thoroughly. Stir in the ricotta and mozzarella. Add the smoked ham and sopressata. Set the bowl aside.
Assemble the Pie
In a small bowl, whisk together one egg and the milk to make the egg wash. Set aside.
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and place a baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C). Remove the pastry-lined loaf pan from the refrigerator. Lay three strips of prosciutto lengthwise along the base of the pie shell. Sprinkle the sausage on top in an even layer. Cover the sausage with half of the spinach followed by half of the sliced red bell pepper. Spoon the egg-meat mixture over the spinach-red pepper mixture and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Spread the remaining spinach over the filling, then layer on the remaining red bell pepper slices. Cover with the rest of the prosciutto.
Fold the pie dough overhang in and over the prosciutto (it will not meet in the middle). Brush the folded in pie overhang with egg wash.
Remove the tray of twists and decorations from the refrigerator. Lay the 5-inch (13-cm) twists across the 5-inch (13-cm) width of the pan, tightly butting them up against one another. If necessary, take a sharp knife and trim the edges so they sit neatly against the inside edge of the loaf pan. Brush egg wash cross the surface of the twists. Lay a 10-inch (25-cm) twist down the length of each side of the pan and press lightly to adhere to the egg wash.
Arrange the pastry flowers, leaves and butterfly cut-outs down the center top of the pie. Brush them with some additional egg wash. Place the pie in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
Bake the Pie
Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425˚F (220˚C). Lower the temperature to 350˚F (175˚C) and continue to bake for another 45 minutes or until the pie reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F (75˚C). Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to set for at least 3 hours. To remove the pie from the loaf pan, run a small offset spatula around the edges of the pie and between the parchment handles and the sides of the loaf pan. Then, using the parchment paper as "handles", gently lift the pie from the loaf pan and slide it onto a serving plate. Serve at room temperature or rewarm on a baking sheet, uncovered in a 350˚F (175˚C) oven for 15 minutes.
The pie can be made 1 day ahead, cooled, wrapped and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 350˚F (175˚C) oven for approximately 30 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165˚F (75˚C) is reached. Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
From Pie Style: Stunning and Flavorful Fillings You Can Make at Home.