Pastiera: Neapolitan Easter Pie

pasteriaThere are many versions of the traditional Italian Easter dessert, Pasteria,  featuring my favorite ingredient, creamy ricotta. This Neapolitan version uses arborio rice instead of the more traditional wheat berries – both signifying spring and rebirth.  This delicious creamy version is like a gourmet rice pudding – the blend of rice, ricotta and cinnamon melt in your mouth and elicits immediate ‘mmmmmmmmm’s’ from the table.   Other versions include a flaky crust and there is even a web site just for Pasteria –  I decided to try Martha Stewart’s cheesecake-like version of this recipe rather than make a crust as I wanted something lighter to serve alongside the other Easter desserts and breads. I served mine alongside fresh sliced balsamic marinated strawberries but it is truly wonderful on its own. And I am saving a tiny piece for my very own La Pasquetta – or Easter Monday – when the Italians take to the hills for a picnic. (I will post a blog about  my own La Pasquetta experience in Sicily on Monday!)

Ricotta Neapolitan Easter Pie: Pasteria


Serves 8

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Unsalted butter, for pan
  • All-purpose flour, for pan
  • 3 pounds fresh ricotta cheese, drained 3 hours or preferably overnight
  • 3 large whole eggs plus 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. Bring milk to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla bean. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until rice is very tender and has absorbed all liquid, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Cover; let cool, stirring occasionally. Discard vanilla bean.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, combine the rice mixture, ricotta, whole eggs and egg yolks, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until golden on top and almost set in the center, 65 to 70 minutes; cover with foil if starting to brown too much. (Note: I had to leave mine in for an additional 10 minutes.)
  4. Transfer pan to a cooling rack.
  5. When cake has completely cooled, run a knife around edge to loosen. Gently remove ring; transfer cake to a serving platter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Join the Conversation

  1. This was absolutely amazing Michele. It was a big hit for my All Saints’ small group meeting tonight. One of the best desserts I’ve ever had/made.

    1. So glad it was a hit!! Your photos looked amazing!

  2. I’ve made my own ricotta, and today I’m going to put this together. Haven’t made balsamic strawberries in a while, but they sound perfect with this.

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