Italian easter pie

Photographer: Emma

Chocolate and sweet treats are synonymous with Easter, so much so that savoury food seems to very much take a back seat when one thinks of the types of food eaten to celebrate this religious festival.  This little realisation inspired me to learn about the savoury foods, unique to other countries and cultures outside of New Zealand, that are prepared and cooked at Easter. I found recipes for Polish and Ecuadorian Easter soups, Russian, Portuguese and Turkish Easter bread and Greek meat dishes.

However it is the tradition that surrounds Italian Easter Pie that appeals to me most.  Recipes for this delicious pie vary greatly from region to region, some shared freely, others a closely guarded family secret passed down from generation to generation.  Preparation of the pie is a family affair, enjoyed just as much as its consumption.  Kitchens fill with the happy sounds of chattering children and adults peeling and chopping, whisking and mixing, all crammed around the kitchen table.

Regional differences aside, these pies generally share 3 common ingredients – cheese, meat and eggs.  Sometimes the eggs are boiled before they are added to the mixture, other times, as with this pie, they are simply whisked into the filling.  Particular to this pie is the addition of sugar into the pastry crust which works to give it a fuller, more rounded flavour.


2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
120g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 large eggs

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
450 g ricotta
3 large eggs
¼ cup grated romano cheese (parmesan is fine)
1 tsp pepper
100g mozzarella
150g prosciutto, finely sliced
2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten with a pinch salt (egg wash)


1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to mix.
2. Evenly distribute the butter and pulse again until just mixed and resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Add the eggs and continue to pulse until dough forms a ball.
4. Remove dough and press into a disc and chill for half an hour.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease a 26cm pie dish.
2. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until browned. Leave to cool while preparing the rest of the filling.
3. Place the ricotta in a bowl and stir in the eggs one at a time to make a smooth mixture. Then stir in the remaining ingredients.
4. Cut off 2/3 of the pastry and re-wrap the remaining third. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2mm. Line the pie dish leaving a little extra pastry
draped over the edges.
5. Spoon the filling into the pie dish. Roll out the remaining pastry, also to a thickness of 2mm and place it on top of the mixture. Carefully fold over the edges and press down with a fork to seal.
6. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden.