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Neapolitan Ricotta and Rice Pie



Easter pie (pastiera) is found all over Italy, but its origins are Neapolitan. Tender pasta frolla pastry pies filled with fresh ricotta cheese and rice, sweetened with sugar, were made in batches, wrapped in clear cellophane, and given away as Easter gifts.

Many variations of this classic have survived; some use wheatberries or orzo (tiny pasta) in place of rice, but my favorite still remains the one from home, made with long-grain rice. For the pasta frolla, I mix all-purpose flour with cake flour for a more delicate pie crust texture. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the flour for accuracy. If you do not have a scale, lightly spoon the flour into a dry weight measuring cup, and level it at the top with a butter knife.



2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 extra-large egg, slightly beaten, plus 1 egg yolk

5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

2 tablespoons turbinado or raw sugar


1 cup long-grain rice

2 cups whole milk

3 inch piece of vanilla bean, slit lengthwise

1 pound ricotta cheese, well drained

3 large eggs

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


Lightly spray a 10 1/2×1-inch tart pan with removable bottom with butter spray. Set aside.

To prepare the dough, mix the all-purpose and cake flours, salt, and sugar in a food processor or bowl. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse to blend if using a food processor, or use a pastry blender or fork to blend the ingredients by hand. Add the whole egg and enough ice water to make a dough that is soft and not dry. Do not overmix or the dough will be tough. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

To prepare the filling, pour the wheat berries or rice and milk into a 1-quart saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan with a small knife, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until all the milk is absorbed. This will take about 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, beat the ricotta cheese, eggs, orange juice and zest, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and cinnamon. Fold in the cooled rice. Set the mixture aside.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each half on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle. Line the tart shell with one rolled-out half and trim the edges even with the top sides of the tart pan.

Fill the tart shell with the ricotta and rice filling. There will be a little of the filling left over. This can be baked separately in a small ovenproof dish or in small ramekins.

Carefully roll the second sheet of dough loosely over the rolling pin and unroll it over the top of the filled tart. Trim off the excess dough, making sure the edges are sealed. Use the leftover dough to make a decorative pattern on top of the tart. I use a small rabbit cutter to make cutouts for the top.

Brush the tart with the egg yolk and sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the top.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the tart.

Cool the tart on a rack, then carefully remove the sides of the tart pan and place the tart on a decorative serving dish. Cut into wedges to serve.

Note: Instead of orange juice and orange zest, candied fruits and raisins can also be used.

Variation: The rice can also be cooked in 2 cups of water instead of milk.

Did you know that the Monday after Easter is called Pasquetta, Little Easter, in Italy and is a holiday almost a big as Easter? It is a day for Italians to relax in the countryside. Often a pastiera is brought along and enjoyed as picnic food.


  1. R. Madonna's avatar

    R. Madonna

    the neopolitan ricotta and rice pie will not print, i love this pie thank you
  2. Fran's avatar


    Is this served with the meal or at the end of the meal as a dessert? Also, is it sweet?
  3. gloria's avatar


    If you can't print out the recipe, copy and paste to a word document, then print

    Good luck!
  4. rita fleming's avatar

    rita fleming

    Thank you for the ricotta rice pie rec looking and looking for it finally found it ty again
  5. MaryRose's avatar


    How long can this be frozen? I have one that was made 11months ago. Can it still be eaten?
  6. Rita's avatar


    Just about to make this cake , my mum comes from iltay and she loves this cake , so hear goes , thank you x
  7. Barbara P's avatar

    Barbara P

    My beloved MIL of Neapolitan roots made pastiera every Easter Saturday. She gave the recipe to one son, who says she made him promise to only make and serve it at Easter Saturday lunch, and never to divulge the recipe! Well, he does, and it's awful. I suspect he uses healthy substitutes and leaves out the Parmesan cheese which he hates. You see, she made her pastiera with
    pasta, eggs and cheese... Not the sweet grain pie that google searches are showing. It was served as part of the main meal, not dessert. Ever hear of this or have a recipe? I'd love to make it and have it resemble what we all remember. She would bake a pan of the pasta version for the meal, and send home a small pan with each family. She said the custom was to use up all the Lenten pasta in the dish, and serve new fresh pasta from Easter Sunday on.
    Please help! This last Easter "pastiera" was in inedible!
    She also made grain pie with candied fruit, but never called it pastiera. It was "grain pie."
  8. alan's avatar


    This is it. I have been looking for this recipe since my Nonnie died, 30 years ago. After reading it, I realized this is exactly it. Love it. Haven't tried yet, but will soon.
  9. Sherri's avatar


    For Barbara, the pie I think you are talking about is pizza rustica, a meat and cheese pie. My mom made it with 7 assorted meats and cheeses, just like the Christmas Eve celebration of the 7 fishes. It has ricotta, mozzarella, salami, sopressata, and any other dry cured meat you would like. You can follow the recipe here for the pastry and just make the filling without sugar or salt and add the meats and cheeses instead of the rice. My mom made this sweet pie which she called pizza gran (her family was from Naples), wheat berries, candied fruit, golden raisins, and some chocolate chips. Dad's family was from Rome and they made it with rice and pine nuts. Pick whatever your family likes. Cooking in Italy is very regional.
  10. Marianna's avatar


    I live in Naples and the Pastiera is my preferred Easter cake. I have learned to make it from my grandmother. The last week I have prepared a delicious variant of this cake by using a nut cream to make the Pastiera more suitable to children and to all people don't like the taste of the ricotta. I have prepared this version at

    Have a nice day and happy Easter ;-)
  11. charlotte's avatar


    to Barbara: your Italian Rice Pie is the EXACT one I am trying to find; w/candied fruit & choc.chips...this is the one we ate every Easter since I can mom hand-wrote the recipe for me many years ago; needless to say, I cannot find it anymore...WOULD YOU KINDLY SEND ME THE RECIPE THAT YOU HAVE for the Rice pie w/candied fruit & choc. chips...THANK YOU...HAPPY EASTER
  12. CHARLOTTE's avatar


    to SHERRI: YOUR Italian Rice Pie is the EXACT one I am trying to find; w/candied fruit & choc.chips...this is the one we ate every Easter since I can mom hand-wrote the recipe for me many years ago; she has since died and I cannot find it anymore...WOULD YOU KINDLY SEND ME THE RECIPE THAT YOU HAVE for the Rice pie w/candied fruit & choc. chips...THANK YOU...HAPPY EASTER
  13. Gina's avatar


    My mother was from Santa Maria, Italy (near Naples). When we lived in California, she would order a Pastiera from an Italian bakery every Easter and it was the wheat berry and candied fruit version. Many years later I made it for Easter and my children loved it. I have not made it for a long time, but will now. Thank you and Happy Easter
  14. Lisa's avatar


    Thanks for sharing. I never learned how to amke this. This catapaults me right back to childhood. We had this every easter with the wheatberries. I am afraid to say that it was too much of an adult tatse for me. I would half heartedly take a few bites and leave it on my plate! Oh the horror!! It was not until I was a young adult that I truly appreciated the wonderful flavors of the food of our people! We also had pizza gaina and sweet bread braids embedded with colored eggs. Oh how I wish all those wonderful grandmas were still alive. I am the Nonna now and I am going to make sure my sweet grandbaby can turn her little nose up at pastiera too!!! As an aside, I just had some made by an Italian friend in Pittsburgh and she used spaghetti instead of wheatberries and it tasted amazingly good! She doesn't share recipes unfortunately. I am glad that you do!!
  15. Flo's avatar


    I am not too good making pastry dough. Wonder if this will taste good if made with store bought pie crust?
  16. Maryanne's avatar


    My Grandmother from Naples also made the sweet Easter Pastiera with spaghetti.
    All her grandchildren loved this and the braided Easter egg sweet bread.
    Does any one have these recipes?
    She was our treasure and lived to be 99 1/2.

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