Easter in Italy is celebrated by rich traditions celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the basis of the Christian faith.
Easter is celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. The celebrations start on Good Friday before Easter and carries through the following Monday. There are rituals, solemn processionals and masses commemorating the joyous celebration. The parades are often in ancient traditional costumes.
Pictured Above Calvario in Good Friday Sicily, Italy
Easter in Italy, in many villages, is the beginning of the festival season. In areas like Tuscany, villagers will spend weekends celebrating until September. After the spring housecleaning is done, the local Priest comes to the house to bless it and to bless a bowl of eggs. The egg symbolizes the never ending cycle of life and death and at Easter many egg dishes are served. Popular dishes for Italian breakfast food are the frittata and Easter pie recipes; made with and without sugar.
Like most countries, Easter in Italy is celebrated with much traditional Italian food. On the Italian food menu you will always find Easter pie recipes. Italian Easter pie recipes can be served for breakfast, but there are many of them made specifically for dessert and served all day long on Easter in Italy. Most of these are known as being Italian ricotta pie recipes but some are also called frittatas like the ham and cheese frittata. The ricotta gives a light taste and texture to the recipe which blends well with meat, vegetables but also fruits and spices sweetened with sugar.
HAM AND CHEESE FRITTATA RECIPE
This frittata recipe is perfect for Easter in Italy.
Mix together cottage cheese, ricotta, ham, Parmesan cheese, 3 eggs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
Blend mixture well and set aside.
Prepare your favorite pastry recipe; shape 2/3 dough into large ball and shape remaining in another ball.
Roll large ball into 16 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.
Fold circle into fourths and carefully lift into 10 inch spring form pan; unfold.
With fingers lightly press dough into bottom and on sides of pan; trim pastry to make it even with rim.
Brush pastry with some of beaten egg yolk; spoon cheese mixture into pastry lined pan.
Fold edges of pastry oven the filling; brush pastry with some of egg yolk.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Roll remaining small roll of pastry to a 10 inch circle; with a knife cut desired design in dough.
Place pastry circle over filling in pan pressing lightly around to seal; brush top with egg yolk.
Bake for 1 hour or until sharp knife in center comes out clean.
NOTE: This can be served cold but I like it warm.
Carefully remove rim to serve and cut in wedges.
There are so many wonderful Italian Easter pie recipes; each family will argue that their traditional one is the best for Easter in Italy. They can be made for a meal or as a delicious dessert; they really should be divided into different categories.
SPINACH PIE RECIPE
Mix flour, 5 tablespoons olive oil and salt; gradually add enough water to make stiff dough.
Knead dough and divide into 10 balls of equal size.
Place balls on lightly floured surface cover with damp cloth and let stand 15 minutes.
Wash spinach with fresh water, place in large pan with lid, cover and cook over low until spinach wilts.
Drain spinach and chop finely; Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté onion until tender.
Add chopped spinach to onion and cook about 4 minutes; set aside.
Mix ricotta cheese, milk and pinch of salt in bowl; set aside.Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Brush large deep pie dish with olive oil.
Roll 1 ball of dough into very thin sheet larger than pie dish.
NOTE: Keep other dough covered with damp cloth.
Line pie dish with dough; brush lightly with olive oil and cut away any excess.
Roll another ball of dough and place on top; brush with oil.
Continue rolling balls of dough, layering them and oiling until 6 circles of dough are layered.
Spread the top of the sixth layer with onion and spinach mixture.
Top the spinach mixture with the ricotta.
Hollow out 6 evenly spaced wells in the filling; add a sliver of butter and an egg in each well.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, marjoram and Parmesan cheese.
Roll out last 4 balls of dough and layer on top with oil between layers.
Poke top with fork, brush with oil and trim off any excess dough.
Bake 40 minutes or until top is golden brown; cut and serve hot.
ORANGE PIE RECIPE
For Easter in Italy, most families have their own traditional version of this delicious sweet Neapolitan Easter pie recipe.
Soak wheat in cold water.
Combine flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 egg yolk to make dough; shape in ball and set aside.
Drain the wheat; combine with milk, orange rind, 1 tablespoon sugar and cook over low heat until creamy and thick.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Combine the ricotta, 3 egg yolks, remaining sugar, wheat, orange flower water, candied fruit and cinnamon.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Roll out ¾ of pastry dough and line 9 inch pie plate; fill with ricotta mixture.
Roll out remaining dough, cut into 3/8 inch strips and form a lattice over the filling and crimp the edges.
Bake 1 hour or until golden brown.
FRUIT BREAD RECIPE
Many people will serve a fruit bread recipe for Easter in Italy and other holidays.
Combine and mix 1 cup flour, yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and milk to a smooth batter; let stand until frothy.
Sift remaining flour and salt into a bowl; add remaining sugar, pine nuts, candied peel and raisins
Stir melted butter, egg and Marsala into frothy batter; add to fruit mixture.
Mix to a soft dough; turn out on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let strand to double in size.
Punch down dough and knead until smooth; shape in a ball and place on greased baking sheet.
Let rise until double; score cross on top with knife.
Bake in preheated oven at 400F degrees for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350F degrees and bake 25 minutes longer; cool on rack.
The following recipe is often made as a gift on Easter in Italy to the priests.
RICE CAKE RECIPE
Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Mix together in a bowl and cut in with a pastry cutter. Stir in the yolk. Work dough with hands an press together in a ball. Press dough evenly in the bottom and up the side of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.Cool.
Turn oven temperature up to 400F degrees and preheat.
Combine milk, rice, sugar, salt and butter over a double boiler. Cover and cook, occasionally stirring for 2 ¼ to 2 ½ hours or until rice is soft. Pour part of mixture into the eggs, and then stir it back into remaining rice mixture. Add almonds and almond extract and stir in. Pour into baked crust and bake for about 20 minutes or until center is firm.