I first heard of Pastina Pie from our friend, Michael Gottuso. A Pastina Pie is a sweet ricotta custard pie with little pastina pasta. He had made one, posted a picture online, and I immediately knew it would be on our Easter Dessert Table. It was instantaneous love at first sight.

I have seriously fallen in love with different Italian foods and even working in Italian restaurants in my youth never really prepared me for the infinite number of rustic, regional – and even family – recipes out there. Victor’s family has their share of family tradition recipes – he made Uncle Rudy’s Easter Pie the other day and we’ve tried our hand at a sweet bread Easter basket called a Gadudi – although no one knows where that name came from – or even how to spell it! Different holidays, different foods… And every holiday has its required dishes.

I didn’t grow up with any sort of ethnic holiday traditions. My Colorado-born grandmother and my California-born mother were already several generations removed from the old sod – where their forebearers were more than likely subsistence-farmers living on potatoes under the inhumane rule of England. They brought their love of family with them – and made due with the new foods they found here.

Not having those constraints let my mom be creative and make what she wanted. While certain things were consistent – canned ham on Easter or turkey on Christmas, the appetizers and desserts varied with her mood and the times. Her cookbooks are a testament to how varied her tastes were and how creative she was in the kitchen. And I know she would have loved this!

Michael said his Pastina Pie can be made with or without a crust – and when it was made with a crust, it was usually a Pasta Frolla – a shortcrust pastry. I went with the pastry.

Pastina Pie

Michael Guttoso

Pasta Frolla

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

Directions

1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor just until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, 6 to 8 times.

2. Whisk together egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest. With processor running, add egg mixture; process just until dough begins to come together. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface; lightly knead to form a ball.

3. Divide dough into 2 pieces, and gently press into flat disks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Line a large tart or quiche pan with rolled-out pasta frolla.

Pastina Filling

  • 1/2 cup pastina
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp anisette
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 lb ricotta
  • Cinnamon for dusting

Cook 1/2 cup pastina in boiling water until soft. Drain and set aside.

Beat 7 eggs with 1 cup sugar until well blended. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional).

Blend in one 15 oz container ricotta cheese. Then blend in the pastina.

Pour into the crust Bake at 375°F until golden. 45 minutes – an hour, check every now and then. Let cool completely .

Store in fridge.

Pastina Pie