Thursday, April 4, 2013

Italian Ricotta and Rice Pie--Family Secrets Revealed!

Annette with her mother and sister
Annette's family
LUCY BURDETTE: I got to talking about Easter dinner with my good friends Ang and Annette Pompano and the sad truth emerged--my family didn't have a stock of special Easter dishes. 

Whereas Annette and Ang both remember wonderful feasts from their Italian families, including amazing Italian rice pies. I begged for the recipe and share it here.


This is Annette's family version, though the maraschino cherries are from Ang's side of the family. Annette warned me that one of her aunts would leave out an ingredient or two when she gave out her recipes. No one has ever figured out how to make her most special frosting--it will go to the grave when she does.

But I made this recipe for Easter dinner, and it came out beautifully...

Annette Pompano's Italian Rice Pie, with Cherries from Ang

Makes two 8” pies


1 cup uncooked white rice (not brown, not par-boiled)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
Peel of one orange, zested
1/2 6 oz bottle maraschino cherries (chopped)

Soak rice in water (enough to cover) for ½ hour. Drain rice (this water is not part of the above)
Simmer rice with milk and water until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. (You will think you have too much liquid, but the rice will absorb this as it cools.

(This is a good time to make the crust. See below.)

Mix cooled rice, ricotta, sugar, and cream in a large bowl. Set aside.

Blend eggs and orange zest in a blender or food processor until pieces of peel are very small. Add to the rice mixture. Stir well.

Fold in chopped maraschino cherries (don’t mix in earlier or the pie will be pink.)
Pour into two 9” crusts (see sweet crust recipe). Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If the crust gets too brown, cover edges with foil for the last 15 minutes.

Italian Sweet Crust

¾ cup shortening (butter is fine--chilled)
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ tsp. baking power
2 ½ cups flour
3 eggs

(I did this a little differently than Annette does, but ingredients are
the same.) Place sugar, salt, baking powder and flour in a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into chunks, add it to the bowl, and pulse until pieces are pebbly. (Do not over mix or crust will be tough.)Beat the eggs and vanilla together and mix this in. Divide the dough into two pieces and knead briefly into disks. Wrap them in waxed paper and refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Flour surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough adding flour as needed to prevent sticking and fit the dough into two 9 inch pie pans. Add the filling, mixing the cherries into part or all of the filling first.  Bake at 325 for an hour, or until set. Cool the pies, then chill and

serve cold.

 In this photo, the rice pie without cherries is on the left, with a piece of killer coconut cake on the right. Oh my gosh, it was heaven. (I've got to track down that recipe too...)

When Annette isn't cooking, she is often found painting. Here's one of her favorites. You can find her on Facebook.

 And please like Lucy's page while you're there!

And don't forget to pre-order TOPPED CHEF, coming May 7!


  1. Oh mercy. Forget the WW points, eat the pie!

  2. I've never heard of a rice pie, but it sounds intriguing (hmm, is there any ricotta in my fridge?). I do love rice pudding made with lots of cream!

    1. Me too on the rice pudding Sheila! the only thing I would have done differently here is cut back on the orange peel. I think I overdid that a little.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hi, Roberta. I’m glad that you enjoyed the rice pie. Ever since I can remember, Easter was a big baking time in my family. My Nonnie (grandmother) used to make a killer pepper bread. I never did get her recipe. Perhaps one of my aunts still remembers it. My mom and dad used to make the traditional ham pie but in a turkey roasting pan. It was like six inches high! In Italy they made this dish in the Spring to use up the remaining ham, prosciutto, and pepperoni that that they had made the previous season. I was very happy to share the rice pie recipe with Lucy and all of the wonderful cooks on this blog.

    1. Thanks Annette, I know everyone will enjoy this! that pie full of ham, prosciutto and pepperoni sounds wonderful!

      And let us know if you track down the killer pepper bread!

  5. So what’s the verdict, Lucy? Maraschino cherries or not?

  6. What a terrific recipe and I like the lore behind it too. No one my hubby's family ever made anything like this, but that's about to change. Thanks, Lucy/Roberta!

    1. Doesn't their food tradition sound lovely? Hope you enjoy the Pompano pie too:)

  7. What a beautiful painting! I love it!

    I've never heard of rice pie. A very interesting recipe, Lucy. Thanks for sharing it. Now, how to get that frosting recipe . . .


  8. Your blog about Italian food is really awesome. This Italian Rice Pie looks delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us. I will try this at weekend. I like italian culture, tradition, Italian food etc . Last summer I have visited Italy as well as I have visited Italian restaurant. I like to drive Italian road at night . I have enjoyed Italian food very much.

  9. We always added a can of well drained crushed pineapple. Magnificent!