Monday, March 26, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Fifty-Seven (Pizza Rustica)

I recently made a few recipes that clearly were not my typical fare. They were ladened with fat and all sorts of unthinkables – full cream homemade ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan reggianno. One recipe, Pizza Rustica not only had the cheeses, but Italian sausages of all varieties. The other recipe, eggplant rolotini, was made with fried eggplant stuffed with the cheese mixture. Each is the subject of separate sinful post.

Neither recipe is something that I would make or eat often for fear that my back-side might start to expand beyond recognition, but these meals were good and worth making at least once.

Pizza Rustica, a traditional Italian Easter dish, was recommended to me by Mike at Teitel’s (of Arthur Ave in the Bronx fame). Mike was way too busy on Saturday to write down a recipe, but he grabbed all the necessary ingredients and tossed them on the counter for me: fresh strained ricotta, fresh mozzarella, parmesan reggiano and a pound or so of a variety of meat ends (various sausages the likes of which I am unfamiliar and fearful to know the ingredients) and said to me slightly miffed “Pizza Rustica, you haven’t heard of it?” “Look it up on the internet; you’ll find a recipe!”

So, that’s what we did. Tim did a quick search and came up with a recipe that I modified to suit the ingredients that I had purchased.


1.5 lbs of mixed Italian meats (go to your l0ocal Italian grocery and ask your personal “Mike” for a mix of the meat ends)

1 lb- ricotta cheese- (get the fresh strained variety and strain again so that the mix won’t come out too wet)

12 ounces-fresh mozzarella cheese- (medium diced)

5-6 eggs- room temperature

1 tablespoon-Italian flat leaf parsley- chopped fine

1/4 cup-fresh Parmesan cheese ( freshly grated)

1/2 teaspoon- salt

15-20 turns- ground black pepper.

· Cut the meats into small pieces, place in frying pan and brown lightly. Set aside and cool.

· In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, salt and pepper; add eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition.

· Add cooked meats, chopped parsley and grated cheese to ricotta mixture. Blend well.

Make it easy on yourself (and add the only bit of nutritional value to this recipe) and use ONE Spelt Right Pizza Dough – fully thawed and risen.

Cut the dough in two – making one piece slightly larger than the other.

Lightly coat a pie dish (I used a stoneware pie dish) with olive oil. Stretch the larger piece of dough and form to the bottom of the dish all the way to the edges.

Line the pastry crust with a nice single layer of the sliced meat, all around including the edges. Bake at 400 for about 5-10 minutes. Take out of oven.

Take the crust out of the oven and fill the dough lined pan with the ricotta and diced meat mixture.

After filling the dough lined pan, stretch second piece of dough and place over the filling, pressing the edges closed. Be careful not to tear the dough. The top must be sealed.

Pierce dough with a fork several times.

Bake in oven preheated to 375°F, 45 minutes to an hour. We took ours out too soon and cut a piece. It became liquidy, so we drained some of the liquid and popped it back in the oven. .

Pizza Rustica, can be served warm or cold. It is actually pretty tasty and certainly pleased the folks at work who hail from a range of ethnic backgrounds, Italian, Polish, Lebanese, Puerto Rican, and Taiwanese.

Regardless of the great taste and broad appeal, this meal should be followed by a full hour of exercise of your choice.

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