Pizzagaina, Italian Easter Pie in English is the most expected and anticipated dish associated with Easter.
Main ingredients are a filling of ricotta, with selections of the best cured Italian cold cuts and cheeses that are encased and baked in pizza dough.
Italians, dominantly Catholic, observe Lent from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday. This is a period of penance and abstinence from eating meat on Fridays. Symbolic at the end of fasting, Italians help celebrate with this incredible meat filled appetizer. The ritual is so special, it’s rarely made at any other time.
Mom would make hers on Holy Saturday. She started accumulating ingredients a week ahead of time that included wasted ends from Italian cold cut logs deeply discounted that were perfect for cubing.
Traditional Easter Pie is made for a crowd. Mine is assembled in a spring formed cheesecake pan. Sides and bottom are lined with pizza dough. Filling starts with a base mixture of ricotta, grated Parmigiana, and eggs for binding. Cubed Italian cheeses and a variety of salami, Prosciutto and other cured Italian cold cuts are folded into the ricotta mixture and the top sealed with dough, ready for the oven.
Scaled Down Version
This scaled down version of Easter pie replaces the traditional oversized version. It’s convenient to serve at smaller socials or holiday gatherings. Dough is replaced with braided puff pastry. Proportioning ingredients ensures all the same great flavors as the original while flaky egg washed pastry adds eloquence.
Different than traditional Easter Pie, we frequently serve them as appetizers year-round.
This recipe makes 2 identical braids. If making only one braid, beat both eggs and use half the odd egg for the wash.
- 2 pack of puff pastry defrosted
- 1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs
- 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Italian cheese mix
- 1 cup graded parmigiana cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ pounds Genoa Salami
- 2-4 oz. prosciutto thin sliced or cubed
- 1 additional cup shredded Italian cheese mix
Note: You can substitute or add pepperoni, soppressata, provolone, and other Italian cheeses and cured meats.
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Preheat oven to 350° convection.
- Once defrosted, keep puff pastry refrigerated until ready to use.
- Mix base ingredients until well combined. Optional, add a small pinch of salt. Other ingredients have relatively high salt content.
- Cut slices of Prosciutto in half lengthwise and in 1” lengths. Fold and distribute evenly into mixture. Chill mixture slightly for easier handling.
- Slice salami into strips, cut longer ones in halve lengthwise.
- Place puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured countertop. Roll parallel to their folds. Increasing lengths to about 12 or 13 inches. Cut patterns as shown in the picture above.
- Spread half of the chilled ricotta mixture evenly along the center of each trimmed puff pastry. Cover both with half of the salami. Sprinkle both with half the remaining shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining ricotta mixture, salami and shredded cheese. Fold end tab over filling; cover with alternating side tabs.
- Place both on a tray covered with parchment paper. Whisk egg with water. Brush both pastry with egg wash.
- Place in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 35 minutes until browned on all sides and mixture isn’t runny. It will solidify further as they cool. Slice with a serrated bread knife. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Visit Peter’s website: www.luciatramonte.com for more appetizers and desserts made with Braded Puff Pastry