This is an amazing authentic recipe for pastiera di riso (rice pie) that is straight from Italy. It is traditionally served for Easter dessert in the Naples region of Italy. Many Italian American homes here in the USA also enjoy this pie for Easter.
A popular Italian dessert for Easter
This is a very popular Neapolitan Italian dessert recipe for Easter. The basic ingredients include a sweet pie crust and a rice- and ricotta cheese-based filling. The filling is made by first cooking the rice with milk and lemon peel. The cooled mixture is then combined with ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and other flavorings.
This was something my mother made every single year for Easter along with Easter bread and pizza rustica (meat and cheese pie). And boy, did I look forward to eating it! There is something very special about baking things only once per year, as it makes for something that you really look forward to making and eating!
Finding a recipe for Italian rice pie
This recipe was adapted from a very popular Italian blog site (Giallo Zafferano). I have found that the recipe that my mom used to make (rice, ricotta, lemon, eggs, sugar, vanilla) is not too easy to find on US sites (and as I’ve explained before, she bakes by touch and feel..no measurement involved ever!).
Step by Step Instructions:
To make the crust, you will add the flour, sugar and butter to a bowl
Using your fingers, squeeze the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse sand like the photo shown here:
Keep pressing together and eventually the dough will become more lumpy like so:
Press down and form into a dough:
To make the filling, you will start by cooking the rice with the milk and lemon peel – you must be careful to stir the ingredients on the rice will stick!
Continue to cook until the rice has absorbed most of the milk. Then set aside to cool.
While the rice mixture is cooling, combine the ricotta, sugar, eggs, and flavorings in a separate bowl and mix until well combined.
After the rice mixture has cooled (it probably will stiffen), combine it with the well combined ricotta mixture.
Pour into the prepared pan that has been lined with the pie crust and bake until the filling is set (should be at least 1/2 inch below rim).
Italian rice pie
For the crust
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes or slices, not melted
- 2 large eggs large
- 1 tbsp grated lemon from 1 small lemon
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1 cup ricotta cheese firm (drain over cheesecloth if too wet)
- 2 eggs large
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp grated lemon from 1 medium lemon
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
To make the pie crust
- In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, and cubed butter. Using your hands, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse sand
- In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and then pour into the dry sandlike mixture and stir until all of the egg has been incorporated
- Press down and form into a dough and then turn out onto counter and knead a few times until there are no dry bits remaining. Form into 2 flat disk shapes, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour (this makes enough for 2 pies, so you can opt to use the extra to decorate the top, or save for another pie)
- Butter and flour an 8-inch pan. After the dough has chilled, roll it into a circle that is about 12 inches wide and then carefully transfer it over to the prepared pan and line it with the dough. If the dough falls apart you can simply pinch it back together in the pan. Use plenty of flour on both sides of the dough when you are rolling out the dough to prevent sticking
To prepare the filling
- Begin by adding the rice, milk, and lemon peel to a gentle boil over medium low heat. You MUST stir often or the mixture will definitely stick to the bottom of the pan!!
- After the rice has begun to slightly bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until most of the milk has absorbed (it’s okay if rice is a bit undercooked as it will keep cooking in the oven). Set aside to cool
- In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, sugar, eggs, grated lemon, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy (I mixed by hand using a whisk)
- Once the rice mixture is cooled, add it to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.
To bake the pie
- prick the pie dough several times all over the bottom with a fork
- Pour filling into the pie shell
- Bake at 350 degrees F on the center rack until the filling is set (about 50 to 60 minutes)