Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Traditional Pastiera di Riso - Italian Rice and Ricotta Pie

This Pastiera di Riso is a classic Easter Italian pie made with sweet and delicate rice and ricotta, flavored with orange zest and cinnamon, in a buttery shortcrust pastry.

Indulge in the enchanting flavors of Italy this Easter with a delightful treat—Pastiera di Riso. This sweet Italian rice and ricotta pie is similar to the classic and authentic Pastiera Napoletana, but it's made with rice in place of cooked wheat, which is not readily available here in the US as it is in Italy.
Infused with the zesty essence of oranges and a hint of warming cinnamon, Pastiera di Riso holds a special place on the Easter dessert table, particularly in the sun-kissed regions of southern Italy. 
This recipe is not the easiest as many of my other recipes, But I bet, once you try this dessert, you will want to make it any time of the year. 
It requires three main steps. Making the crust, making the filling, and assembling the pie.
Make the crust: 
You can use a food processor for this step or make it by hand. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter (cold from the fridge, cut into pieces) and quickly process into the flour to cut into small pieces. Beat the egg and egg yolk in a small bowl and mix quickly until the dough comes together. 
If the dough is still a little crumbly and too dry, add a little of the extra egg white (just one teaspoon at a time or so) until the dough comes together. 
Divide the dough into two parts: a large piece (about 3/4 of the dough) that will be used as the base of the pie and a smaller piece (1/4) used to decorate the top of the pie. Make the two pieces into two discs, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 
Make the filling:

Cut a large strip of lemon peel and one of orange peel. Save the rest of the lemon and orange for the grated zest later. 
In a large saucepan, add the milk, rice, salt, and strips of lemon and orange peel. Simmer and cook until the milk is absorbed and the rice is cooked al dente. When the milk is almost absorbed, you will need to mix more often to make sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Move the cooked rice to a glass bowl, mix in the extracts, remove the peel, and let cool. 
Mix the remaining of the filling ingredients in another large mixing bowl. Fluff the rice with a fork and add some at a time to the ricotta and egg mixture. Make sure to mix gently to break down clumps of rice. 

Assemble the pie:

Roll out the dough and place it in a springform or deep dish pie pan, spray or grease with butter and flour.
To transfer it to the baking dish, help yourself with the rolling pin and roll it up and out over the baking dish. If the dough breaks at any point, it can easily be fixed and patched with your fingers and extra pieces of dough if needed. Refrigerate for a little longer if it's too hard to work with. Fill the pastiera with the filling and decorate with a lattice design.
Bake in the lower third of the oven until golden on top. 
Make sure to let the pastiera cool down before slicing and enjoying the first bite!

Suggestions when making this Pastiera di Riso:

  • To make this recipe gluten-free, please substitute the dough recipe with your favorite gluten-free pie crust.
  • Choose Arborio rice for this type of pie. It's creamy and will give this dessert the perfect consistency.
  • This recipe calls for one lemon and two oranges. Cut a large strip from one lemon and one orange to cook with the rice. Make sure the piece is big so it will be easier to remove when the rice is cooked. The rest of the lemon and orange zest will be used in the filling. 
  • When adding the cold rice to the ricotta mixture, fluff the rice with a fork to break the bigger lumps and add some of the rice at a time, to ensure that the rice is fully incorporated into the filling. 
  • For this recipe, I used an 8 1/2-inch springform pan, but you can use anything between 8 and 9 1/2 inches. Smaller is the pan, thicker is the pie. I like springform pans for easy removal at the end. 

How to Store Pastiera di Riso

You can store the pastiera in the fridge for up to five days. This dessert can also be frozen by wrapping it in plastic wrap and then in tin foil. Thaw at room temperature and enjoy. 

Printable Recipe Card: How to make Traditional Italian Pastiera di Riso. 

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