A New Italian Easter Tradition

Every family has their traditions.  Some are religious in nature.  Some are activities shared by the family at certain times of the year.  Others are food related.  In my family we have traditions in each category, but most tend to be centered around the table.  Special dishes which are made for certain holidays, events, or days.  One of my favorites is Pizza Rustica, or what my family called “pizzachina” (pronoucned pizza-KEENa), which is made at Eastertime.  After forty days of Lenten fasting, the pizzachina is a savory delicacy in every sense.  The slightly sweet crust (sometimes referred to as ‘pasta frolla’), and the rich filling made from egg, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, densely studded with prociutto (and in some cases, sweet sausage, but not in my family) is a feast for the mouth.  It’s labor-intensive, but well worth the effort.

Many years ago my parents gave me a wonderful book called Festa, which detailed many Italian food-traditions.  It listed a baked sausage bread among the Eastertime foods.  We never made this exact dish in our family, but made something similar for New Year’s called “minulati”.  Both are pretty simple concepts—pizza dough wrapped around crumbled, sweet Italian sausage and baked.  The book described making more of a loaf which would then be sliced, where as the minulati were smaller-sized sausage ‘rolls’.   I received  this book back in 1997, and started making sausage bread at Eastertime, and at Christmastime, and New Year’s, and pretty much anytime I had people over…because it was just so good.  Sometimes if I’m pressed for time I swap the sausage for pepperoni (which doesn’t require any pre-cooking), but the sausage is still my favorite. 

I would never replace the pizzachina on our Easter table, but giving it a little company is never a bad thing!

Easter Sausage Bread

Serves 6+

1 lb of pizza dough (prepared or homemade)

1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 -3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, saute the crumbled sausage until no longer pink, breaking it up with your spatula as it cooks.  (In Festa they also add a garlic clove to the mix, which you could easily do too).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a large, oiled baking sheet, stretch the dough out into a rectangle.  Scatter the cooked sausage on top of the dough, leaving a border of about one inch all the way around.  Top with both cheeses, being sure to distribute it evenly around the dough.  Starting at one end, roll the dough up, jelly roll style, and pinch the seam and ends to seal.

Make sure the seam side is on the bottom, and brush with an eggwash if desired (just lightly beat an egg with a tiny bit of water and brush over the top–it will give the loaf a golden brown color and make it glisten). 

Bake for one hour.  Slice and serve hot or at room temperature.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

Above photo from Steven Valenti

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2 Responses to “A New Italian Easter Tradition”

  1. Recipe Chefs Says:

    Excellent post thanks for sharing. Food is something I can enjoy all around. If I’m not eating it. I’m reading and looking at pictures about it.

    Rise n Shine Eggs – Breakfast Recipe

  2. Wonderful Mexican Food Culture Traditions | Cool Cooking Recipes Says:

    […] A New Italian Easter Tradition « Season To Taste &#10&#10 […]

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