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A classic Italian recipe for Easter Pie (Pizza Giana) - a dense, delicious pie filled with Italian Meats and Cheeses with a thick crust.

My father in-law recently gave my husband Jack a priceless treasure – an envelope full of hand-written recipes from his grandmother that are over 100 years old!  Among those recipes, was a recipe for an Italian Easter Pie.

As a child, Jack has distinct memories being served Easter pie at his Nanna and Grampa’s house.  It’s full of eggs, cheeses, and Italian cold cuts and has a firm crust.  This delicious pie is traditionally served at Easter in Italian households as a way to ‘break Lent’ – hence the name – Easter Pie!

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 Easter Pie (Pizza Giana)

There are actually many different variations of Easter Pie – some with 33 layers of crust (one for each year that Christ lived) called Torte Pasqualina and that is made with greens, ham, cheese and hard boiled eggs inside.  Ours is a meat and cheese version called Pizza Giana (Giana means “God is gracious” in Italian) – and in fact, there are actually a number of names and  variations for this type of meat and cheese Easter pie – all depending on what region of the country your Italian family comes from.  There are even some dessert Easter pies!

Our Easter pie is dense, filling, savory and delicious!  It’s made with Italian meats and cheeses – all of which are easily found at your local supermarket.  You can make a pattern on the crust (we did a cross) for the holiday, or leave it plain – completely your choice!

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Easter Pie

Sadly, Jack’s grandmother’s old handwritten recipe was battered and yellowed to the point of not being fully-legible.  So this recipe also draws inspiration from one of our favorite Italian cookbooks, The North End Italian Cookbook, as well as what Jack could read in the handwritten recipe and his memories of the dish his grandparents made for their family growing up.

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Easter Pie - A Family Feast

Easter Pie

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper (yes I said 1 tablespoon)
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup or less warm water
  • 1 egg and one tablespoon milk for egg wash

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta
  • ½ pound pepperoni, cut into small cubes (don’t use pre-sliced)
  • ¼ pound double Abbruzese, cut into small cubes
  • ½ pound sopressata, cut into small cubes
  • 1/8 pound Genoa salami, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh cheese (such as formaggio, queso fresco, or other similar fresh uncultured cheese)
  • ½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour and black pepper together with a fork. Cut in shortening and mix to pea sized crumbs. Make a well in the center and add beaten eggs and half the water. Mix by hand and keep adding water until a dough forms. (I should note that the traditional crust for this sort of savory pie is a stiff hard crust, not a flaky crust so the next step is contrary to the usual way to make a pie crust but is needed for the crust to be stiff). Knead the dough on the counter for 5-7 minutes, wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. While dough is resting, in a large bowl, mix all filling ingredients except fresh cheese and prosciutto. Break fresh cheese apart with your hands and gently work it into mixture without over mixing. Set mixture aside.
  4. Take 2/3 of the dough and roll out to fit your dish or pan, having it cover the bottom and sides, spilling over the top. Lay half the sliced prosciutto on the bottom right over the dough, then cover with the filling. Lay the second half of the prosciutto over the filling.
  5. Roll out the other 1/3 portion of the dough and cover the top of the pie, trimming excess. Crimp the edges together tight using a fork to press the two edges together. For the traditional Easter pie, take the excess dough, roll out and cut two dough strips and form a cross on the top of the pie. (Or any other decoration you feel that fits your needs)
  6. Make egg wash with the egg and milk and brush all over pie top including the cross and the edges.
  7. Make four slits through pie top to let steam escapes.
  8. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes. Lower heat to 300 and bake for 30 more minutes. If not browned enough, bake for 10 more minutes.
  9. Cool to room temperature, chill for six hours and serve cold wedges.
  10. Will last for up to five days refrigerated.

A classic Italian recipe for Easter Pie (Pizza Giana) - a dense, delicious pie filled with Italian Meats and Cheeses with a thick crust.

PIN THIS RECIPE NOW!

Easter Pie

Easter Pie

 

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    Comments

  • Keira R wrote:

    I have made this recipe for the past four years and it always comes out delish! We tend to like it better a little warmed up, but it also tastes great cold.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Keira – so glad to hear this!

  • Rachel L Phillips wrote:

    Can you make the crust the night before and refrigerate, or do you not recommend?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Rachel – Yes, you could make the crust the night before.

  • Tom Adinolfi wrote:

    Trying your Italian Easter pie it’s in the oven now I’ll let you know tomorrow how it turned out. Thank you for sharing.. Tom

    • Martha wrote:

      Hope you love it Tom!

  • Patty wrote:

    Looking for a recipe my mother in law use to make at Christmas. It was a pi she called toukie not sure on spelling. It almost sounds like turkey pie but it’s not the word turkey and I don’t know if turkey is even in it. Any ideas I would be so grateful to find this recipe.
    Thank You

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Patty – Was it an Italian recipe or some other nationality? Neither Jack nor I have heard of a pie with that sounding name, but we will ask Jack’s father if he has…

  • Joseph wrote:

    for some reason I just decided to see if a recipe for Easter meat pie like My MOM used to make every year was available ,,,we always went to Claros market an upland Ca. for the ingredients cost a ton to get them your recipe has I think nailed I don’t remember sliced prosciutto , just all chunk meats maybe cappacolla ,spelled wrong , and provolone. it was very dense the crust seems to be rite will let you know ,that crust she made was the best ,,,,Im almost sure this is what She made …from Napoli Calabria ,,

    • Martha wrote:

      I hope ours is half as good as the one your mother used to make!

  • Raymond Lebert wrote:

    I have a question about the eggs used in the filling” are these eggs hard boiled and then chopped?”

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Raymond – No, the eggs are not cooked/boiled ahead of time. The white pieces you see in the photos are chunks of cheese. Hope that helps!

  • Frank DeSimone wrote:

    I enjoy theses recipes and would like future ones.Thanks Frank

  • Courtney Canzolino wrote:

    How big of a pan did you use?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Courtney – We made this in 9-inch round casserole with 2 1/4-inch high sides. If you have a 9-inch cake pan with higher sides, that would work too. You can really mound the meats and cheeses up in the pan before putting the crust on top. Hope that helps!

  • Karen wrote:

    Delicious Pie

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Karen!

  • Maria wrote:

    Awesome made both. Family loves Easter this is traditionally Italian Easter

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Maria – so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Happy Easter!

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