Featuring layers upon layers of deliciousness, the Torta Rustica (or Italian Easter Pie) is perfect for spring and summer picnics and potlucks!
Here comes Peter Cottontail…hoppin’ down the bunny trail… Man, I remember that song like it was yesterday. In reality, it was somewhere around 30-ish years ago. But my grandmother would always sing that song when I was a little kid. It didn’t matter if it was Easter or not. She’d song that song whenever I (or my sister!) was upset and crying about something. That little jingle is forever stuck in my head, and I associate it with spending long weekends at grandma’s house. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to do today. Or what I had for dinner last night. But I remember that song. Funny how the brain works, right?
With Easter coming up soon, Laura and I got to chatting about Easter egg hunts the other night. We used to have an egg hunt of epic proportions with all of my cousins on Easter morning. But we had to have the ‘big kids’ hunt’ and the ‘little kids’ hunt.’ Otherwise, us big kids would steal all of the eggs from the little kids. We were such jerks back then.
Or sometimes we’d do the big kids’ version in the back yard while the little ones (my sis included) went to the front yard. Our eggs were hidden in tree branches or knotholes in the big oak tree. Or even in the dreaded chicken coop. The chicken coop hadn’t been used for years, and it was basically a storage area for all sorts of junk. And you didn’t go into the chicken coop! Meanwhile, the little kids would have their eggs laying on the driveway or tucked under some border grass.
Laura’s mom had an ingenious idea when it came to egg hunts, though. There were 3 girls in her family, and each girl was only allowed to pick up 2 of each color egg. Each color had the same candy in it, so that way all of the girls ended up with the same stuff in their Easter baskets. Pure genius right there! I still remember fighting with my sister over who got the better candy. Haha!
The kids might get their candy for Easter, but the adults get delicious meals like this Torta Rustica. (Truth be told, I want my chocolate Easter bunny and this Torta Rustica!) Ever heard of a Torta Rustica? It’s sometimes called an Italian Easter Pie, and it’s essentially a deep-dish pie filled with Italian meats and cheeses. It’s traditionally served up on Easter, although we cheated and made this one a few weeks early this year. I didn’t hear any complaints, though!
The Torta Rustica is a handy recipe to keep around for spring and summer. It’s served at room temperature, so that means it’s perfect for potlucks and picnics. It’s also quite impressive…I mean look at those layers upon layers of deliciousness! Thin slices can be served up as an appetizer or side dish, or larger slices can be served as the entree. Basically, the Torta Rustica wears whatever hat you need it to wear!
Speaking of the layers, this recipe is quite versatile. I’ve seen it made with layers of cooked Italian sausage. I’ve seen it with artichokes. I’ve seen it with gorgonzola cheese. It really is hard to go wrong here! Just make sure the flavors all play nicely together, and you’ve got yourself one delicious meal…or appetizer…or side dish. I’ve included our favorite ingredients (*ahem* mozzarella and salami *ahem*), but feel free to adapt this one however you’d like. And then come back and let me know what layers you included! Enjoy!
- 1 10-oz. package frozen spinach, thawed
- 2 batches of pie dough homemade or store-bought
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion diced
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
- ½ cup feta crumbled
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 2 large eggs divided
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 8 oz. salami sliced
- 1 16-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place thawed spinach in a small bowl. Using paper towels, press as much water as possible out of the spinach; set spinach aside. (Note: Really squeeze as much liquid out as possible to prevent Torta Rustica from being overly soggy!)
- Roll one batch of pie dough out into a 14” circle. Carefully press dough into bottom and sides of a 9” springform pan; set pan aside.
- Using a large skillet, add oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion just begins to soften (~4-5 minutes).
- Using a large bowl, combine cooked onions and garlic with the ricotta, feta, Parmesan, 1 large egg, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; mix until well combined.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella into bottom of pan. Next, layer half of the sliced salami on top of mozzarella. Spread ricotta mixture evenly on top. Next, sprinkle spinach on top of ricotta. Finally, layer rest of the sliced salami and then the roasted red peppers on top. Finish by sprinkling remaining 1 cup of mozzarella on top.
- Roll remaining batch of pie dough into a 9” circle. Place on top of the filling. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until lightly beaten. Brush edges of dough with beaten egg and pinch together to seal. Brush top of the pie with the remaining beaten egg. Cut 4 small vents into the top of the pie dough to allow steam to escape.
- Bake at 375°F for 60 minutes, or until crust is dark golden brown in color. Let pie cool in pan for at least 45 minutes before removing sides of pan.
- Let pie cool completely before slicing. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.