While traditionally, Italian meat pie with rapini is prepared and served for Easter, our Sicilian family breaks all the traditional food rules and prepares what is also referred to as Pizza Rustica any time of the year we want a delicious, filling Italian meal.
The recipe I am sharing with you today for what is also referred to as Italian Easter sausage pie is a spin on the traditional version that contains salami, sometimes other Italian cold cuts, and often olives.
Instead, the Rapini and sausage Italian meat pie is a stuffed combination of protein, filled between a top and bottom crust that is fit for the Italian Gods to dine on.
As a side note, my recipe is for single-serve pies, but you can increase this recipe without issue; we make signal serve meat pies with rapini because, on Easter, there are so many other foods on our buffet.
And in true Italian tradition, there are always leftovers. We pack them up and send our family home with food from our celebration because you never leave a truly Italian house empty-handed!
Table of Contents
What Names Your Family Might Refer To The Pizza Rustica As
This easy Italian sausage pie is a satiating and healthier alternative based on our traditional family Italian Easter meat pie recipe, also known by a few other names that you might recognize or your family might have referred to it as:
- Pizza Rustica
- Pizza Piena
- Pizza Chiena
- Pizza Gian (Pizzagaina)
- Sicilian easter meat pie
- Italian meat and cheese pie
- Pizza meat pie
- Italian Easter Pie Calzone
Pro Italian Girl Food Tip
This recipe is not Sicilian Sciachiatta which is a double-crusted (empanada-like) BREAD DOUGH; this is a pie crust.
Also, this is not the Italian Sicialian Pizza bread I’ve shared many times known as Sfincione.
But our Pizza Rustica is a homemade meat pie from scratch and is incredibly easy to make!
Why You’ll Love This Italian Meat Pie With Rapini
The genuine fact about this recipe is that it is easy, filling, and you can change the ingredients repeatedly to enjoy something new each time you prepare the meat pie with rapini ricotta and sausage filling!
- Pizza Rustica is great for breakfast or lunch
- It’s an easy way to fulfill what is known as the traditional Italian Easter offerings.
- You can and should make the Sicilian meat pie ahead of time
- The ingredients for the Sausage pie with rapini are easy to find
- The Italian ricotta pie with meat is easily transportable (think Easter, parties, etc.)
- you’ll have a fresh spin on ingredients, including nutrient-loaded broccoli rabe (rapini)
- Ricotta cheese is high in protein and is neutral when combined with other ingredients
- Once complete, it indeed proves that baking Italian recipes do not have to be hard
- the resulting Pizza Rustic is truly a stacked, stuffed layered feast
Equipment Needed To Make Easter Meat Pie
- A pie pan (with a bottom release or a spring pan)* (if you are making the pie crust only)
- large mixing bowl
- a stand mixer (or by hand)
- rolling pin
- parchment paper
- measuring cup
- Wooden Spoon
- Frying pan
Time-Saving Pro Tip For The Pie Crust
Time is always working against us, so fear not; you can purchase premade shells so you do not have to make the pie crust dough for this recipe. Do note that buying a frozen prepared shell would still require you to at least roll out the top layer or you could purchase premade pie dough and use it for the top.
Alternatively, you can purchase premade pie crusts and roll them out, using them instead of making dough for both the top and the bottom.
Don’t worry; Nonna will forgive you for this shortcut because she will be happy you are carrying on the tradition and making the sausage and ricotta pie!
Ingredients for Your Italian Meat Pie
- Olive Oil
- Hot or Sweet Sausage (casing off), so bulk is better
- Cooked Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) Recipe here >>Rapini
- Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
- Pecorino Romano
- Ricotta Cheese
- Egg Yolks
How To Make An Italian Meat Pie With Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Now I will share how to prepare the pie crust, the Easter meat, the ricotta cheese mixture, and all the other ingredients so you can bake your homemade, golden brown stuffed Easter meat pie!
Step 1: Create the pie pastry shell for the Italian Easter Sausage Pie
Using a large bowl, you will combine flour, salt, beaten eggs, vegetable shortening, and cold butter together with ice water to create the pastry.
You’ll find it easiest to use a stand mixer and the paddle to create this pastry dough, it is easier than mixing it by hand, but you can also do that.
Step 2: Mixing With The Dough Hook
Once the ingredients are combined, you will trade the mixer paddle for the dough hook.
Allow the hook to knead the pie crust (pastry dough) briefly; when it is ready, the dough will have elasticity and a seemingly smooth appearance.
Step 3: Let That “Pie Dough” Rest
While initially, you might have considered this a pie dough, as you can see, there is yeast in it, and the dough you have made will double.
So while this is not bread dough, it is not pie dough either; it is somewhere in the middle!
Place the freshly prepared pastry dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it, and allow it to rest for 1 hour, where it will double in size.
While the pastry dough is doubling, you will begin working on the filling.
Step 4: Prepping the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
It would be best to prepare the cooked broccoli rabe using the simple recipe above; set that aside.
Next, you will use your frying pan for cooking the uncased sausage with the garlic thoroughly.
Browning the sausage until fully cooked, and break it up as you turn it in the frying pan.
Once you are done, the cooked sausage and garlic should be crumbled combined, and you will remove it from the frying pan and set it aside.
Step 5: Preparing The Ricotta Egg Filling
In a large mixing bowl, place your eggs in and beat them until they are fluffy but not crazy, so about 2 minutes on medium-high.
Add the drained ricotta cheese and combine to combine thoroughly; it will look like a thick and creamy filling.
Add the pecorino romano cheese and the shredded mozzarella filling and blend again.
Step 6: Blend The Filling Together
This is where the meat pie with rapini and filling all come together.
You will add the sausage and broccoli rabe into the ricotta egg filling mixture and mix well.
Step 7: Cut the pastry for the Pizza Rustica
Preheat your oven and butter your spring pan.
Place parchment paper down on your counter (or not)
Lightly dust your parchment paper or countertop with flour.
Remove the pastry dough from the covered bowl.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces: 1/3 and 2/3 because you will need more for the bottom than the top crust.
Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough into what should be a 16″ if you are using a traditional 9 1/2″ Springform Pan.
Place this portioned dough into the prepared springform pan, allowing it to drape over without tearing.
Next, you’ll want to pinch your draping dough somewhat (see my photo).
Step 8: Fill The Pie Crust Cavity
Fill the pie cavity using the ricotta egg filling and the sausage rapini (Broccoli rabe).
Add your prepared, combined filling into the pie crust cavity.
Step 9: Create the top crust for your Easter Meat Pie
Using the remaining dough (1/3 portion), you will roll this out in the same way as you did the bottom crust, and you will roll it into a 9″ round top.
Once it is formed, place it on top of the newly formed Pizzagaina and pinch it to close.
Now, brush it with an egg yolk.
Step 10: Baking the Stuffed Ricotta Rapini Sausage Pie
Place the prepared ricotta-filled rustica on a baking tray (in case of overflow) and place it on the middle rack.
Bake, then remove to cooling racks to rest before serving.
What To Serve With Your Italian Easter Sausage Pie
The flexibility of this particular meat pie is fantastic and truly depends on the time you are serving it.
For instance, if you are serving this at Easter, you’ll want to serve it differently than if you serve it during Christmas and, naturally, using it for a Sunday brunch.
Here are a few ideas of what to pair this meat pie with once you have made it, baked it, and are ready to serve it!
Possible Sides You May Want To Consider
Rosemary potato wedges are a great addition to this as a side and make it a complete meal, IMO.
Also, when you serve this fabulous hearty meat pie for breakfast, you may want to consider fresh citrus on the side or pear sliced and drizzled with honey and almonds.
A Dandelion mixed salad is also a fantastic side as it offers a bitterness that is countered by the sweet taste of the ricotta in the Pizza Rustica.
Popular Substitutions and Additions
- You can eliminate the pie dough and opt for the refrigerated premade, do note that using a frozen pie shell is not recommended as you need a top pastry dough to top off your meat pie, and you won’t have that if you purchase a frozen one.
- Instead of sausage and broccoli rabe, you could sub in a sauteed swiss chard or spinach.
- If you prefer a more traditional Italian Easter meat pie, you might consider using Italian cold cuts, such as Mortadella, Sopressata, etc., rather than sausage (sweet or spicy)
How To Reheat & Store Italian Meat Pie
There are no mysteries here regarding reheating and storing, and I will share this with you so that if you have leftovers, you can safely store them!
Best Way To Store Pizza Rustica Leftover
I suggest cutting the leftovers into wedges and transferring each leftover slice to an airtight container in the refrigerator.
How Long Will Italian Meat Pie Last In the Refrigerator?
You can store this meat pie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, I don’t suggest any longer, but I will clue you in as to what to do if you need to store it any longer.
Can I Freeze Italian Easter Sausage Pie?
Yes, you can freeze this for up to 6 months, providing you wrap it securely in either an airtight container or freezer zip bags, taking care to force all the air out of the storage bags.
How To Reheat Italian Easter Sausage Pie
All that you have to do to reheat your leftover slices/wedges of the meat pie, is to portion out the piece you want, and place it in the microwave for 1-minute increments (as microwaves vary in temperature)/
Pizza Rustica FAQs
Can I Make A Regular Pie Crust?
Yes, you can, it just may not be as fluffy, but I have used both!
Can I Eliminate The Broccoli Rabe?
You can eliminate the broccoli rabe, but I suggest adding a different green, such as Swiss Chard or Spinach.
Can I Use Proscuitto Instead of Sausage?
Yes. However, you may not end with the same flavor as the sausage will provide; the fact is, this is versatile, and you can add bacon (cooked) or pancetta (cooked) in the exact amounts as well.
Can Olives Be Added Into The Ricotta Cheese?
Yes, and we recommend unspiced, traditional black Italian olives, but we suggest you check EACH olive and ensure there are NO PITS in the olives.
Can Tomato Sauce Be Added To The Ricotta?
You can add in anything you want, but you don’t want to make a watery consistency, so keep the additions minimal until you have full control of the recipe and its consistency. Additionally, you are probably no longer making an Italian meat pie when adding the sauce.
Are Rapini And Broccoli Rabe the Same Ingredient?
Yes. And either must be rinsed during prep and cooked before adding the rapini or broccoli rabe into the mixture. We also suggest chopping the pieces into bite-size portions.
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Don’t Forget To Come Back And Let Me Know How Your Italian Meat Pie Turned Out
This recipe has been in my Sicilian-rooted Italian family for generations, and I am so happy to share it with you.
My Nonna used to make this on all the holidays, with Easter being the one I remember the most!
Italian Meat Pie With Rapini Recipe
Italian Meat Pie | Pizza Rustica
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 10 ounces Sweet or Spicy Sausge with the Casing off we suggest using bulk to eliminate this hassle
- 1 tbsp minced garlic Fresh garlic cloves are even better
If Making Broccoli Rabe Plain And Not as in My Other Recipe
- 2 heads cooked broccoli rabe (clean and steam this (or follow my recipe mentioned in the post above) Rapini is the same so use it if you find it
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slit (only add this if you are cooking the broccoli rabe per the below instructions, otherwise follow the inrgedients and instructions on my other post as inidicated the post above. )
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 c water
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 c (17 Oz) Whole Riccota Cheese (strained if there is any liquid)
- 4 large Eggs (beaten)
For the Ricotta and Egg Mixture
- 12 ounces Freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2-3/4 c Pecorino Romano Cheese grated
- 3 tbsp Italian Breadcrumbs
Italian Pastry Crust (top and bottom)
- 2/3 c cold water
- 1/4 tbsp softened butter pieces sliced but not hard
- 1/4 c Olive Oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2.5 c all purpose flour
- .25 packet Quick Rise Instant Yeast (bread machine yeast)
- 1 egg Set aside, do not add to the recipe, it is to be used on the top pastry crust .Large beaten with 1 tbsp of water (for pastry top before baking)
For the Pastry Dough
- Using a bread maker add in above listed ingredients according to your machine's instructions, and place on 'dough' cycle.
- While the dough is in the bread machine you will prepare the sausage and ricotta filling
- Remove the sauage from the casing and place it in the chosen frying pan with the minced garlic and the olive oil. (we suggest bulk sausage it has no csaing on it)
- Cook this on medium heat, and move the meat around to smash it and crumble into small pieces.
- Once the meat is browned, and fully cooked, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
For the Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)
- In a large skillet, place the rinsed, clean, chopped broccoli rabe with the olive oil
- Add in olive oil, water and the garlic cloves, then the salt
- Cover, and cook on medium heat to steam and wilt and reduce
- After 20-25 minutes, the bright green will have turned to dark green and the broccoli rabe will be cooked.
- Remove from the heat and mix with the sausage. Then set aside
- In the large bowl that the eggs were whipped in, add in the ricotta cheese and mix to combine.
- Add in the pecorino romamo and the shreeded mozzarellla and the breadcrubms and again mix to combine.
- Add to this mixture the sausage and broccoli rabe and mix to combine well.
- Preheat Oven to 350°F
The Dough Cycle Ends And Now Build the Italian Meat Pie
- At the end of the cyle, remove the dough and separate it into 2 pieces. 1 piece that is 1/3 and the other is 2/3
- From the 2/3, lightly sprinkle either parchment paper or your counter and roll the dough into a 16" piece to fit a 9.5" Springform pan.
- make sure to butter your springform pan for easy release
- Once you have rolled out your pastry dough into the 16" you will place the dough into the springform pan, note that it will drape over the edges.
- You should then crimp the overhanging dough, and make sure that the circle fits nicely into the pan. If you need to make any repairs use the excess dough that is hanging to patch and then set the base aside.
- Next you will roll flat, then cut your top circle out into a 9" round, and set it aside.
- Now, add the filling to the base the cover with the round top pastry
- Make sure to put a few slits in the top pastry in order to allow it to vent!
- Brush the top pastry with the egg wash (egg whisked and water added)
- Bake for up to 1 to 1.5 hours
- Remove from the oven and allow this to sit on the cooling rack for about 1/2 hour to fully set. Then serve
- Refrigerate any leftovers and you can read in the post all other storage suggestions.
- Enjoy !!
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