Pizza Rustica ( also called Torta Rustica) is a delicious ricotta-based pie baked for Easter in Southern Italy. It is delicious served at room temperature and perfect for an Easter-Monday picnic!
For the shortcrust pastry:
(Slightly adapted from ‘Cucina del Sole’ by Nancy Harmon Jenkins, 2007)
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 eggs, 1 separated (1 egg yolk reserved for egg wash at end)
- Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
- 3 to 4 tablespoons very cold dry white wine
For the filling:
- 3 cups (24 ounces) whole milk ricotta
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, diced or torn
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or a combination)
- Approximately ½ cup (4 ounces) salami, diced
- Approximately ½ cup (4 ounces) mortadella, diced
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
Equipment: 9” springform pan
- Make the dough
- Using a food processor: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture comes together and forms small pebble-sized pieces. Add the whole egg, the egg white, and the lemon zest. Slowly add the cold wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between each tablespoon just until the dough comes together. The dough should be moist but not too wet.
- By hand: In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, mixing into the flour using your hands until incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the whole egg, egg white, and lemon zest and mix into the butter/flour mixture. Slowly add the cold wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix together just until the dough comes together. The dough should be moist but not too wet.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Divide the ball into 2 pieces; one piece slightly larger than the other and using your hand, flatten into disks. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about an hour while you prepare the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare the filling: If your ricotta is watery, put it in a colander and allow to drain for about 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta and eggs until very well combined. Add in the mozzarella, Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese, salami, mortadella, parsley, and pepper. Stir until well mixed. Set aside while you roll out the dough.
- Assemble the torta: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger disk of dough to form a 14-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Carefully drape the dough into a 9-inch springform pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan. Trim any excess dough that overhangs the pan. Using the trimmed dough, patch any areas that need additional dough. Fill with the prepared ricotta mixture. Top with slices of the egg, if using.
- Roll out the second disk into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Place it over top of the filling. Trim away any excess overhang with a sharp knife. Press the edges together where the crusts meet to seal the edges. You can use a bit of water to moisten the dough if it doesn’t hold together.
- Beat the reserved egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush the egg mixture over the top of the dough. Make a small “x” shape in the middle of the pie to allow steam to escape.
- Place the torta on a baking sheet and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the crust is browned, and the filling is firm, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the torta rest for at least 60 minutes before serving.
- The meats and cheeses: You can choose whatever meats and cheeses make you happy! Here I have used two of my faves – salami and mortadella but you could easily substitute prosciutto, cooked ham, and cooked sausage. As for the cheeses, I opted for mozzarella and a mixture of Pecorino and Parmigiano. You can easily swap out the mozzarella for a fontina or provolone.
- Add something green: If you are craving a bit of green in the midst of all that meat, saute up some spinach or chard in a bit of olive oil with some garlic, and toss it into the filling. A delicious addition!
- The hard-boiled eggs: Completely optional but boy, they are tasty! I recommend going the extra step and including.
- Let it rest: I know it will be tough not to eat it right out of the oven but let this sit for a good hour before you even think about digging in. This is fantastic a day or so later and served at room temperature.