Italian Easter Veggie Pie

 

This is the vegetarian version of the traditional Italian Easter Meat Pie.  It is lighter than the meat version, and just as good.  You may substitute any of your favorite sautéed vegetables (or even leftover veggies!) and add crisply cooked bacon or prosciutto if you don’t care about the vegetarian part. 

 

 

10 servings

 

        Crust

4 3/4   cups flour, (20 ounces)

2          teaspoons salt

1           tablespoon yeast

2          tablespoons sugar

1/4       cup olive oil

1 1/2    cups warm water

           

            Filling

1           tablespoon olive oil

1           large onion, chopped

1/2       pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1           10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (place in strainer and squeeze out liquid)

6          large eggs

2          pounds part-skim ricotta cheese

8          ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1           cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (4 ounces)

1/4       cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4       teaspoon salt

1/2       teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

           

2          tablespoons olive oil

       

 

     Crust:  Mix the crust ingredients in a bread machine and set the machine to dough. 

     Alternately, mix the dough ingredients in a mixer with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Let rise until doubled; punch down.

     Divide the dough into four pieces, two slightly larger than the others (the larger ones will be bottom crusts).  Grease 2 9" pie pans thoroughly; set aside.

     Roll out a large piece of dough to a large circle that will hang over the pie pans at least 2-3 inches, on a lightly floured pastry cloth; set aside to rest and roll the other large piece out.  After both pieces have rested for 5 minutes or so, roll them out again and drape them over the prepared pie pans.  Roll the other two pieces of dough to just larger than the pie pan, let them sit, then reroll.

     Filling:  Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet; add the onions and sauté until limp.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and the liquid has cooked out; stir in the spinach.  Mix all the filling ingredients including the cooked vegetables and divide between the two dough-lined pans. 

     Assembly:  Drape the top crusts over the filling and bring the bottom crust up and over the edge of the top crust.  Seal the two together by pinching with your fingers, then crimp.  With a small 1" round biscuit cutter, cut a hole in the middle of each of the pies (for steam). 

     Place the pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then place in a preheated 325° oven.  Bake the pies for 85-90 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on the outside.  Remove from the oven and brush each pie with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them rest for at least 1 hour before cutting.  Serve warm or at room temperature.