La Vera Cucina


At Easter, many Italian American families enjoy making Pastiera (pahh-stee-era), a sweet ricotta pie originally from Naples. Simply called “Easter Pie” by some families, Pastiera is traditionally made by baking softened wheat berries (wheat seeds presoaked in water) in a sweet ricotta custard. Here in America, popular variations on Easter Pie are flavored with vanilla or lemon and often replace softened wheat berries with cooked rice, which provides a similar texture, but is more widely available.

Here, Nick Scalise, owner of Juliano’s Italian Restaurant in Robinson Township, PA, shares his family’s recipe for “Easter Pie”!



  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup cold water
  • ½ stick of butter


Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and work into flour mixture. Separately beat eggs and flavoring. Stir beaten eggs into flour. Form dough into ball; chill one hour. Prepare 12” round pan with thin film of shortening. On a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth, roll half the dough into a circle fitting the bottom of the pan. Trim to fit; set trimmings aside. Roll second half of dough into a long strip as wide as the pan is deep. Press strip into side of pan and seal on the bottom crust. Roll out trimmings; cut into narrow strips to decorate top of filling with a lattice design.



  • 3 pounds creamy pastry
  • ricotta (impastata)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • Pinch salt


In a large bowl, mix ricotta until smooth. In a second bowl, combine sugar, extract, salt, and eggs; beat well. Add beaten eggs and cooked rice to the cheese mixture; blend gently until uniform (overmixing ricotta will make it watery). Place filling into dough lined pan. Bake at 350°F for 75 minutes. Makes twelve servings.’



Buona Pasqua!

Across Italy, families celebrate Pasqua (pass-quah), or Easter, with traditional festivals and foods, from roast lamb to special sweet breads, tortas, and cakes. While each region has its own distinct food traditions, some Easter foods, like la colomba (dove shaped loaves of panettone style sweet bread originally from Lombardia), have gained broader popularity over time. L’Uovo di Pasqua – As in America, il ouvo (whoa- vo), the egg, remains an important symbol of rebirth. Historically, some traditional southern Italian Easter breads featured whole eggs baked into the dough. Today, chocolate eggs are often exchanged between loved ones, including hollow versions containing gifts or surprises!