Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie

Cheesecake is yummy, but try a lighter, just as creamy alternative for Easter Sunday.

Marguerite Henderson shares this classic Italian recipe.

Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie Crust
2 cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
4 oz. (1 stick) butter
1 large egg
2 T. sherry, Marsala or vinegar
About ½ cup iced water

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, sugar, butter and egg. Pulse on and off until dough is coarse. Slowly add the sherry and the iced water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing on and off until dough forms a soft ball. Do not over process for it will make tough dough. Form 2 balls. Roll out one ball onto a floured work surface to a 10″ diameter circle. Place in a deep 9″ pie pan, crimp edges and set aside. Roll out remaining dough to a 10″ diameter circle and cut into twelve ½” wide strips. This will form a “lattice” over the pie.

OR USE 1 package pre-made pie crusts – Pillsbury is my favorite.
Ricotta Cheese Pie Filling
1 ½ lbs. whole milk ricotta (don’t use skim or low fat. Favorite brand is Polly-O found at Caputo’s markets)
¼ cup toasted finely chopped almonds
1 T. orange zest
1 T. lemon zest
1 T. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/3-cup sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 T. cream
Powdered sugar

In a mixer, combine the ricotta, almonds, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla extract, eggs, sugar and salt. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Pour into prepared piecrust. Loosely place 6 strips of dough in one direction on top of pie. Then place 6 strips in opposite direction to form a “lattice” on top of pie. Crimp edges of lattice with the bottom layer of piecrust. Brush with egg wash. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour until filling is firm and pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven; cool to room temperature and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serves 8-10.

Note: This pie tastes best if made a day ahead, and then refrigerated. This is a traditional Easter dessert served in Italy with variations from region to region. It is a favorite at my house as it was at my mother’s.

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