About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Cotechino with Lentils | Main | Sautéed Calf’s Liver with Lemon, Piccata Style »

Pizza Rustica

The last of the pork recipes . . . sigh.

I have enjoyed this chapter. Yes, I have.


Last week we had a special event here - mom had a 'big' birthday. We flew my sister up for a surprise. It was quite a surprise . . . tears flowed . . . I, being excessive emotion adverse, hid upstairs until dry eyes returned.

Once it was safe to return downstairs, I got busy serving up mom's special birthday dinner. The first course was this pizza rustica - we invited Marcella to the feast in a way. Of course mom took me to task for calling this a pizza. 'It's NOT pizza!' she declared.

I explained that it was a traditional dish from Abruzzi and wondered who she was to challenge the Italians for how they chose to name their foods . . . indeed! The nerve of we North American's for thinking that we know more about Italian food than Italians themselves!

Pizza rustica isn't the easiest dish I've made from Essentials but it sure got placed quickly on my top 10 list (yes, the same top 10 list that must contain 20 items by now).

The pasta frolla (Italian sweet pastry) is made first and chilled. Once chilled, it is used to line a deep dish. The pastry shell is then filled with the most wonderful filling of eggs, cheese, and meat.

Marcella indicates that the dish is traditionally made with hard boiled eggs which she omits because she thinks it is rich enough without them. She also cuts back on the sugar in the pastry (mom's diabetes was thrilled with this). As well, the dish is traditionally made with cinnamon, a spice Marcella has an aversion to so it is left out of the recipe as well. (Really? Cinnamon? How could anyone NOT LOVE cinnamon? Now surely Marcella must understand Irene's aversion to eggs, Palma's aversion to tomatoes, beans, chocolate, and most things healthy, and my aversion to tripe, kidneys, brains, and the like - we all have our likes and dislikes - quirky things we humans).

Anyway. I see that I have lost my thread . . . as usual. Thanks goodness it wasn't 'Jerry and Gretel 'in the famous fairy tale for those children would never have found their way home with me trying to follow a defined path through the woods. LOL

Back on track.

The addition of cinnamon in the traditional recipe makes me think that this must be an ancient dish - certainly my food history has shown me how common it was in renaissance times to mix sweet, savoury, and spicy things all together in special dishes. Of course back then the spice was used to cover up food that was likely past its prime . . . today we get to enjoy the wonderful flavour combination. Thank goodness for refrigeration!

Once covered with the rest of the pastry , the pizza rustica is baked for 45 minutes until a deep brown.

I took it out of the oven to a chorus of ohhs and ahhs.


Notice the Canadian maple leaf on the top of this quintessential Italian dish? The cultures merge together over time, yes, they do.

Then I served up a piece as the first course - the ohhs and ahhs soon became muffled as everyone enjoyed this amazing dish!


We all declared it to be wonderful. I immediately hid the remaining rustica so that I and only I would be able to enjoy the leftovers at a later date. There are limits to my generosity and apparently my limit is half of a pizza rustica.

I sure was glad that I had invited Marcella and her skillful recipes to the table. It was a night of chatter, laughter, wine, memories, and wonderful Italian food . . . in fact, by the time we finished dessert we had been at the table for close to three hours. What could be more Italian than that?


On to the variety meats . . . hold on to your hats, gentle readers, for this is gonna get messy methinks!

Comments (6)

Josephine Gigi:

Wow, that looks fabulous. I make Nick Malgieri's version from "How to Bake" of pizza rustica. Also made with pasta frolla. Traditionally, I only made it for Easter but now everyone in the family loves it too much for just once a year so I now also make it for our Christmas get together on Christmas eve.

Barb Cabot:

Great post. Your mom is adorable! Makes me get teary...just the thought of such a grand surprise. The pizza rustica is perfect! Cheers to you for pulling off a great surprise 70th birthday surprise! Lovely.

This looks fantastic! I must try this soon as I really enjoy making pastry. My favorite Thanksgiving leftover dish is turkey pot pie from a wonderful James Beard recipe.

Jerry, love your mom's hat, she looks adorable. You must have inherited your sense of humor from her.

Jerry, you favor your Mom. Loved this post. Made me want to try this soon. BTW the maple leaves are a great touch.


Jerry and Gretel??? You are tooo much!
Dish looks amazing.

Marcella Hazan:

Jerry, I am waiting with bated breath for your post on lamb kidneys. Or is it tripe, glorious tripe, that you are making? Perhaps the other Pomodori would be glad to let you handle the whole offals section by yourself.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 11, 2010 8:44 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Cotechino with Lentils.

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