Easter brunch is an excellent time to get the family together to share food and fun. Holidays are actually the perfect time for homemade pizza, too! (For reference, see our posts on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day pizza [ with heart-shaped pizza too], and St. Patrick’s Day…)
If you are looking for something different to add to your Easter brunch menu, you should try a savory Italian Easter pizza.
It’s a special dish that the whole family will love!
What is Easter Pizza?
In Italy, Easter pizza is also called pizza di Pasqua or pizza Rustica. To be honest, using the word pizza to describe this dish is a little deceptive. It is actually more like a combination of lasagna and quiche.
Lasagna because of the layers and quiche due to the fillings and thickness. This savory dish is filled with meats and cheeses and can be served hot or at room temperature.
There are many different ways to make it. Depending on the region, it can have olives, herbs, spinach, ricotta, ham, coppa, mortadella, and other combinations. It’s a hearty filling pie reserved for a decadent Easter brunch after the strict fasting of Lent.
In some families, they serve it in small squares as an appetizer. It is rarely the star of the show. However, it is very filling and could easily be the main course.
Where Does Easter Pizza Pie Originate?
Pizza Rustica is thought to have originated in the 17th century near Naples, the birthplace of the Napoletana pizza. Each region makes it a little different depending on the local delicacies. In Emilia-Romagna, it is filled with salty strips of prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano.
In Sicily, it is filled with ricotta and sausage. In Abruzzo, the dough is sweeter, giving a nice contrast between the sweet dough and savory fillings.
In Liguria, the region that gave us pesto, it is filled with Swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens beaten with eggs. And, outside of Naples, on the island of Ischia, it is shaped into a ring to represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore when crucified.
How to Make Easter Pizza Pie
Since it is so versatile, you really can make it the way you like it. We like to make it with soppressata, coppa, and mortadella. But you can do it with salami, deli ham, or even pepperoni.
To make this savory Easter pizza at home, you will need a few basic tools that you may already have at home.
Aside from these tools, you will need some counter space to roll out the dough.
To make the dough, you will need:
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet of dried yeast
- 1 cup of water
Mix the ingredients together either by hand or with a mixer and set aside. It doesn’t need to rise, but you can let it rest while getting the other ingredients together.
We like to use meats, cheeses, and a layer of spinach and ricotta. It’s such a heavy dish that the spinach and ricotta add texture and lighten it up a bit.
- 2 bags of frozen spinach
- 1 large tub of ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano
Mix these ingredients together and set them in the refrigerator until you are ready to start assembling the dish.
Other ingredients you can try at your discretion:
- 2 cups of grated mozzarella
- 1 pound of coppa
- ½ pound of soppressata
- ½ pound of mortadella
Feel free to mix and match the toppings. If you want to add more veggies, a layer of sauteed mushrooms and garlic will work, or you could even skip the meats and add more veggies like grilled eggplant and zucchini, broccoli, or tomatoes.
While you can make a vegetarian version of this dish, it’s a bit difficult to veganize but not impossible.
Assemble the Easter Pizza Pie
Divide the dough into two balls, with one a bit bigger than the other. Then, roll out the dough and press it into a deep baking dish. Roll it out, so there is extra dough on the sides.
Now, layer the fillings starting with mozzarella, then a layer of meat, then the ricotta spinach, and do this several times until the dish is full. Now roll out the second smaller dough and cover the top. Pinch the sides together to make a pie.
Before putting it in the oven, cut three to four slits on the top for steam to escape. And brush with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a tablespoon of water). Bake uncovered at 350°F for one hour. If it is browning too much on top, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
When it’s done, let it cool for two to three hours. This step is very important because you want it to cool and for the layers to gel together so when it’s cut, you can see the layers like a good lasagna. If you cut when it’s still too hot, everything falls apart.
In many Italian homes, they make this on Good Friday, so it has time to cool and only slice into it on Easter.
- Don’t put the spinach and ricotta mix as the first layer because the crust can get soggy.
- Do grease the baking dish with butter.
- Do check it often while cooking to make sure the top doesn’t brown too much. If it does, you can lower the oven rack to keep it from burning.
- Do try different cheeses like fontina, Gran Pandana, or smoked gouda.
- Do get creative and customize the dish to your taste.
Have you tried Italian Easter pizza? What ingredients would you add to make it perfect for your Easter table?