Pizza Rustica

The thing that I enjoy most about holidays is the food. I love to think about what we should prepare, I love cooking it, and of course, I LOVE to eat it! And ever since meeting my husband, I have been exposed to a whole assortment of Italian-American dishes that had, until recently, been totally new to me. One of these dishes is pizza rustica.

Pizza rustica is a savory pie filled with a ricotta cheese mixture that is laden with salami and other tasty meats. What exactly goes into a pizza rustica depends on whose recipe you are using. I have even seen one recipe that calls for spinach, which surprised me because I thought all additions were strictly supposed to be meat and preferably some kind of pork product. Yum!

I don’t exactly recall how I learned of pizza rustica, but it must have been from mother-in-law. I was intrigued because it sounded kind of like the gigantic pie that had been served as the grand finale in the movie “The Big Night”. I loved that movie and had always wondered what that dish was. My mother-in-law said that it was probably a timbale and not a pizza rustica, but nevertheless, I was still very interested in making a pizza rustica. I looked online and in some of my cookbooks for a recipe and made one last year. I wasn’t too impressed by it. So, this year I planned ahead and asked my mother-in-law for her recipes. She brought out an old Naples cookbook and some old recipe clippings. The recipe I chose was from the Naples cookbook, and it makes two pies.  The recipe may look a little bit time consuming, but it really isn’t.  Just leave yourself enough time for the dough to rise twice, about 3 hours.

For the dough:
1 1/4 tsp. yeast
1/2 cp warm water
3 cp unbleached flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 T lard/shortening
3 lightly beaten eggs

  1. Dissolve yeast in water and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender.  Stir in the eggs and the dissolved yeast.
  3. While it is still in the bowl, knead the dough, sprinkling it with a little bit of flour to make it less sticky.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a oiled bowl, and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.  This took me about 1.5 hours.
  6. Punch the dough down and let it rise a 2nd time, also about 1.5 hours.
Dough before 1st rise

Dough after 1st rise

For the filling:
3 oz. soppresata, cut into 1/8 dice
3 oz. prosciutto, cut into 1/8 dice
3 oz. cooked ham, cut into 1/8 dice
3 sweet Italian sausages, boiled, skinned and finely chopped (reserve cooking water)
8 oz. mozzarella, 1/4 dice
2 oz. pepperoni, 1/8 dice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/4 cp ricotta
1/2 cp grated parmigiana
3/4 cp finely cut parsley
4 hard boiled eggs; 2 chopped, 2 sliced
1 tsp pepper
1 egg for egg wash

  1. While the dough is in its 2nd rise, prepare the filling ingredients and combined all except the 2 sliced eggs and egg wash.  Stir in about 1/2 cp of the sausage cooking water.  The filling will be thick.

Assembling and baking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 pieces for 2 10-inch pie plates. 
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of down into a 14-15 inch circle.  Drape and press lightly into one pie plate.
  4. Fill it with 1/2 the filling.  Top it with the slices from one hard boiled egg.
  5. Roll out another piece of dough into an 11 inch circle.
  6. Cover the filling and pinch the edges to seal.  Cut 4 slits into the top crust and then brush with the egg wash.
  7. Repeat to make the 2nd pie.
  8. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour.  After 30 minutes, rotate the pans if they are on different shelves in the oven and cover with foil if the crusts are getting too brown.
  9. Let it cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack and then remove from the plate to cool completely.  (I didn’t do this.  I just left them in the plates).
  10. It keeps in the refrigerator well wrapped.  I am actually going to freeze the 2nd pie.  I will tell you how that turns out.
Before going into the oven…
Aren’t they festive??!!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *