I fell in love with the Pizza Rustica on my first visit to Il Ritrovo. This stuffed pie is traditionally served in the Campagnia region of Italy as part of the Easter feast.
At Il Ritrovo, it is served as an antipasti along with a fried zucchini blossom and a bruschetta. When I asked what it was the language barrier prevented us from understanding each other. Now that I have been absorbed into the family at Il Ritrovo, I have learned to speak a bit of Italian and become familiar with the inner workings of their kitchen. Pizza Rustica is one of the first dishes I have on my annual visit to work and live in Montepertusio, a hillside town perched above Positano on the Amalfi coast. When make this at home in the US, I can close my eyes and it takes me back to my little village overlooking the sea.
At Il Ritrovo, Sylvania bakes every morning. She makes this from memory along with her fabulous cookies. She is hard at work seven days a week in the tourist season and on my visits I am glued to her side watching her every move and writing furiously in my notebook. Sylvania doesn’t speak English and my Italian is not quite what I would like it to be but we understand each other. I have learned so much just shadowing her in the kitchen.
Now, let’s talk about this recipe. Pizza Rustica is a stuffed pie made of a slightly sweet piecrust and a savory filling. Similar to a quiche, it is something that my friends and family request time and time again. It can be served as an appetizer or a light lunch or dinner with a salad. Either way, it is amazing, I do hope you try it.
The filling can be adjusted to your taste. Some prepare this with only the cheese and cured meat, others add vegetables to the mix. I like some of my pickled peppers and a few handfuls of Swiss chard. That is the recipe I give you here. Sylvania has her own secret crust that doesn’t convert t from the metric measures as well as I would like it to so I have modified Nick Malgieri’s recipe found in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. His version is a bit sweet so I cut the sugar down a bit. Sometimes I serve this like a quiche, eliminating the top layer of dough so the beautiful filling can shine through. Either way it is magnificent.
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ Cup sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Stick (4 oz) Cold, Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
- 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Pound Whole Milk Ricotta, preferably homemade* or artesian
- ⅓ Cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- ½ Pound Mozzarella Cheese, finely Chopped
- ¼ Pound Salami, Prosciutto, Ham or a mixture of cured pork products, finely chopped
- 2 Swiss Chard Leaves, stems removed and discarded, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons of Roasted Red Pepper, finely chopped (Optional)
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
- 3 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times just to mix the ingredients.
- Add the butter and pluse a few times times until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. Add the eggs and process until the dough forms a ball, about a minute or so
- Remove the dough from the processor and knead it, folding it over on itself until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside in the refrigerator for 15 – 20 minutes or if your not using it right away, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to three days.
- Spoon the ricotta into a bowl and stir until smooth with a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the filling ingredients one at a time, stirring until each addition is incorporated and the mixture is well blended.
- Butter a 9” pie plate or tart pan.
- Divide the dough into two pieces, one a bit larger than the other. Working with the larger piece, knead into a disk then roll it out on a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch circle.
- Transfer the dough to the pie plate and press gently against the bottom and up the sides of the plate. If the dough tears, just press it back together. Trim any excess dough even with the rim. Spoon the filling into the pie shell and smooth the top.
- Knead and shape the remaining piece of dough a circle then place it on the top of the pie. Trim the top even with the edge of the pan and pinch to seal. Alternatively, cut circles, shapes or strips and lay them artfully on tip of the pie.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust in golden and the filling is firm and slightly puffed. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely before serving.
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