Yesterday I wrote about my Dad’s Easter tradition. Today I’m writing about mine: rice pie (pastiera). I discovered it through a childhood friend. Her mom made it every Easter and once I tried it I was completely smitten. She appreciated my enthusiasm for her culinary skills and for years she made one for my family. When I turned 18 she said, “You’re old enough to make it yourself,” and handed over the recipe. I have been making it ever since. In fact, this will be my 24th year preparing this Easter treat I enjoy cold with a cup of tea on Easter morning.
There are many versions of this pie. In fact, I lived next door to an older Italian woman who made seven different versions for her family. One had Bailey’s Irish cream, one had grain, and several were ricotta variations. When you live in a state that has pages of local politicians taking out ads to wish everyone a Happy St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th) you can bet you’ll find many different versions of this dessert. (On a side note, the zeppole is the traditional pasty you eat here on St. Joseph’s Day. There are lines out the bakery doors on this day).
I double the recipe to make four pies. I give one to my mom, one to my mother-in-law, I bring one in for the teachers’ room on the Monday after Easter, and keep one at our house. So far I have cooked the rice in milk and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Today I will do the baking.
Here is the Rice Pie recipe I use (makes 2):
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. long grain rice
- 1 quart 1% milk
- 1/2 stick butter
- 6-8 eggs
- 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 pint half and half
- 1/2 t. cinnamon, optional
- ready-made pie crusts
Put rice and milk in saucepan on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Watch carefully and continue stirring to avoid burning the bottom of the pan. Add butter toward the end.
Let rice mixture cool.
Mix eggs, vanilla, half and half, crushed pineapple, sugar, and cinnamon by hand.
Ladle mixture evenly between two pie crusts. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Enjoy!