Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Lent, the season preceding Easter, is a time of penance and abstinence; in Italian households this pie, stuffed full of cheese, meats, and eggs is the sign that Lent is over and Easter has arrived. 

Pizza Rustica is made all over Italy for Easter and in many Italian-American homes throughout the US and here in the Coal Region. Of the twenty-three million people who emigrated from foreign countries to live in the United States by the start of World War One, nearly five million were from Italy. All were devoutly Catholic and possessed a passion for their home region and an adherence to its traditions, customs and dialect.

Lackawanna County in NE Pennsylvania boasts one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Italian-American populations. 

Traditionally made on Good Friday but not enjoyed until Easter Sunday, (it is a perfect make ahead dish for an Easter brunch) this pie’s exact filling ingredients change from family to family, but the idea is always basically the same – hearty meats and cheeses in a rich egg-y filling baked in a crust.  As long as you like YOUR recipe, that’s all that matters – all are equally delicious. Often, the family recipes are passed down and the next generation of cooks is mentored to create the dish to ensure that their family tradition continues.

Make this to your taste – feel free to use a mix of your favorite meats; sausage, ham, pepperoni, soppressata,  mortadella, capicola or hard salami. Just be sure you use about 2 pounds total. Your local deli that slices to order would likely be more than happy to cut the deli meats into slabs for you which is better for chopping up than trying to use thin slices.

You can use the crust included in this recipe, your own favorite crust, ready made pizza dough, even puff pastry. You can make a pattern on the crust or leave it plain The goal is to enjoy your creation!

Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Entree, SnackCuisine: Italian, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate

Make this to your taste – feel free to use a mix of your favorite meats; sausage, ham, pepperoni, soppressata,  mortadella, capicola or hard salami.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup ice water

  • Filling
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds ricotta

  • 3 large eggs

  • 8 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 8 ounces Genoa salami, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 8 ounces pepperoni, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 4 ounces smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1/4–inch cubes

  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

  • Egg Wash
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water


  • In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the eggs and water and pulse until evenly moistened and just coming together.
  • Turn the dough out onto a board and knead several times.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces (one is 1/3 of the total of dough and the other is 2/3).  Wrap and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375° and butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.
  • Roll the larger piece of dough on a floured surface, to a 15-inch round. Ease it into the pan without tearing and tuck it into the corners. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
  • Filling
  • Brown the sweet Italian sausage in a medium skillet over moderately high heat, breaking it into small lumps. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the ricotta, the 3 raw eggs, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, hard cooked eggs, Parmesan and parsley and stir to combine.
  • Finish
  • Spoon the mixture into the crust and spread to an even layer. Brush the edges of the crust with some of the egg yolk mixture.
  • On a floured surface, roll the remaining, smaller piece of dough to a 10-inch round. Place on top of the filling, pressing the pastry edges together.
  • Trim the edges to 1/2-inch and tuck the overhang underneath. Crimp with a fork and brush the surface with the egg yolk mixture.
  • Cut a small steam vent in center. Bake on bottom rack of oven until golden and the filling is bubbling, about 75 minutes.  Loosely cover with foil halfway through to prevent over browning.
  • Transfer to a rack to cool, then refrigerate for several hours.
  • Remove the ring and slide the pizza rustica onto a platter.
  • Cut into wedges. Serve cold or reheat.


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