Happy Easter! If you are like me, you love to celebrate Easter by sharing a special meal with family and friends. I imagine you have certain foods that have become a tradition and have to be on the table each year. In our house we have always had ham, asparagus and deviled eggs, along with many other things. (My kids always complained that we only had deviled eggs at Easter.) I happened to read an interesting article on Friday about traditional Easter dishes around the world. Check it out here.
This year, like last year, we are not gathering with family and friends due to the pandemic. So, I have been researching and planning for weeks how to make this Easter pizza dinner memorable. I discovered Pizza Rustica, aka Pizzagaina, Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Chiena, Pizzachino and Pizza Piena to name a few. As you may already know, the names of certain Italian dishes change drastically from region to region due to the different dialects. But they all mean the same thing, ‘stuffed pizza’.
Italian Easter Pizza Pie is unlike any pizza you may have ever seen or tasted. It is Italian sausage, cured Italian meats, four kinds of cheese and eggs stuffed between two layers of crust and baked in a springform pan. It can be traced back to 17th century Naples. The Catholic Lenten tradition requires fasting for 40 days from dairy and eggs. So this became the perfect, indulgent dish to break the Lenten fast.
As there are many names for this dish, there are many ways to make it. In Italy, each region and each family makes their Easter pizza differently based on the ingredients they may have locally. What this means is that it is more of a concept than a recipe set in stone. So if you can’t find a particular meat or cheese you use what you have or can find. The idea is to create a beautiful creation that fills one’s soul with rejoicing. The Lenten fast is over and Easter has come.
So with the concept in mind, I did as I usually do. I read through several different recipes and had fun creating my own family recipe based on what we like and what we have available. Although, I will say we are very fortunate to have an Italian grocery store in Des Moines that has been here since 1912. And they make the BEST Italian sausage.
Traditionally Pizza Rustica is made on Friday and eaten either cold or warmed up on Easter Sunday after church. I made it on Saturday and it was very difficult to put it in the fridge and wait till Sunday. I imagine there is some religious symbolism to waiting for three days.
Thursday Doughday: Using my Pan Pizza Crust we made French baguettes.
We also made French Onion Soup in the crockpot. We cooked the onions in the crockpot for 12 hours (in the garage). We then finished off the soup and cooked for another 8 hours.
We served the soup with French baguette sandwiches.
Next week’s pizza creation may include some of my family’s Easter favorites…