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Pizza Rustica for Vegetarians

Asked by bekka135. Answered on 6th October 2011

Full question

I love the idea (and the photo) of the Pizza Rustica (Domestic Goddess, p86), however, my family is vegetarian. Are there any specific filling combinations you would suggest for this type of dish? Thanks!

Our answer

Pizza Rustica, as you can see from the photograph, is more of a pie than a pizza and it is also sometimes known as "Easter Pie" or "Carnival Pie" as it is served at lunchtime on the day after Good Friday to celebrate the end of the Easter meat-free period for Italians. However there is another popular version which contains chard or spinach, ricotta and grated Parmesan (or the vegetarian versions of these cheeses, depending on how strict you are on your definition of vegetarian foods).

To fill the pie you are going to need quite a lot of spinach or chard (we would guess at 1kg/2 1/4 lbs). You should cook the spinach first until wilted then put it in a clean tea towel and wring out as much liquid as possible otherwise you will end up with an overly soggy filling. Then chop the spinach and mix it with the ricotta (you may also need to increase the amounts of ricotta) and a generous addition of grated Parmesan and season well. You can also add some other ingredients that you like, such as finely chopped shallots cooked with garlic, chopped artichoke hearts (the type packed in oil), toasted pine nuts, chopped sunblush or sundried tomatoes (the type packed in oil), even black olives. Some people also fill the pie then make indentations in the filling and crack and egg into each indentation before putting the top on the pie. The eggs bake as the pie cooks and you get a nice section of yellow egg yolk in each slice.

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