Italian Easter Pizza Rustica recipe, worth the time

Traditional Italian Easter meals include a special pie-bread called Pizza Rustica. It's hard to find already prepared but worth the time to cook it from scratch.

The Easter dish has many names. Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Rustica, Pizzachino, and Pizza Piena, while it has become Americanized to Easter Pizza or Easter Meat Pie.

There are more ways to make it than names to call it and both have a lot to do with what region of Italy one's family hails from. Each region or city adds its unique ingredient and then over the years as family members are lost to age, recipes get changed for convenience, changing tastes or expediency.

Recipe for a sweet Easter treat, a ricotta orange cheesecake

Because it includes meat in the recipe, Pizza Rustica was a traditional way to end the season of Lent, a time of fasting and living without meat for many. Some recipes include sausage, pepperoni and Genoa salami. The one provided here includes only pepperoni.

There are recipes that call for a two-crust pie while others are made by rolling the crust around the ingredients as one would with a calzone or a Mexican enchilada.

It is hard to make this Easter treat without it being good, filling and flavorful.

Ingredients.

Dough: 8 cups of Bisquick 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups of milk with flour to sprinkle on the baking surface and to knead into the dough.

Filling: 8 eggs hard boiled, sliced into 6-8 pieces each. 2 pepperoni sticks sliced thin 3 lbs. ricotta cheese, loosened with milk Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese to taste --- at least 3/4 cup. Italian parsley finely chopped to taste ---- at least 1/2 cup.

Cooking instructions:

Mix Bisquick, eggs and milk until firm. Add flour to knead the dough until it is smooth and soft. Roll the dough into a circle. With this recipe you can make one large pizza or two smaller ones. Keep ends of the dough thicker than the rest of the crust.

Spread the dough on a flat surface that has been lightly covered with flour. Mix the ricotta with a little milk to loosen it, making sure it is thick enough not to run when cooking. Spread the ricotta mix over the rolled dough, leaving at least one inch without ingredients at the edges.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the ricotta mixture. Next, layer thin slices of pepperoni first, then the slice hard boiled eggs and finally the finely chopped parsley. Use salt at your discretion.

Carefully begin to roll the dough with ingredients until the mixture is no longer visible, making sure that the dough doesn't split open as it is rolled. Bend the ends softly to form a large horn-like shape to more easily place it in the cookie sheet or large pizza pan.

Slowly move the pizza from the baking counter into the baking pan and put into preheated oven at 350 degrees. Place pan on the middle oven rack.

Bake the pizza for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The baking time will vary based on whether you are baking two smaller pies or one large one. Let cool before slicing or serving.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Betty Longbottom