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Easter Pie 2011

I know you’ve all been waiting breathlessly for the unveiling of this year’s Easter Pie. Ta Da!  Here it is: I made a traditional looking pie, just like mom used to make.  Only difference is mine doesn’t contain meat, eggs, or cheese, like hers did — even her crust had eggs in it!  Talk about cholesterol…

Thanks to the miracle of spices, including a hefty dose of cayenne, red pepper flakes, ground and whole fennel seeds, and paprika, this vegan Easter Pie tastes just like Mom’s!  Mine is made with tofu and vegan sausage.  Although this is an Italian tradition, I think anyone who likes spicy savory pies would enjoy this. The recipe is here.

Happy Easter!

My Vegan Easter Pie Tradition

When I first went vegan, one of the first things I needed to veganize was a traditional family dish: the Italian specialty we call Easter Pie. Each year my mother would make this savory pie with hot Italian sausage and ricotta cheese — about as non-vegan as you can get. We never ate the pie hot or even warm — in fact, we usually enjoyed it cold for breakfast. Over the years, I’ve tinkered with her recipe and I must say that the recipe in Vegan Fire & Spice comes pretty close. The recipe is below and includes my latest “tweaks” (I’m always zeroing in on just the right balance of flavors so it tastes as close to my mom’s version as I can get it.) The photo shows the slice I had for lunch today with a side of red beets on a nest of beet greens. Mmm.
It seems as though everyone who makes (traditional) Easter Pie (called “pastiche” and “scachette” in different places) includes something different in their recipe — some people use rice, others use noodles, and some make it on the sweet side. If you have a family Easter Pie tradition (and a vegan version!) I’d love to hear about it.

Italian Easter Pie
Called by many names in different regions of Italy, my family just called it Easter Pie because my mother only made it at Easter time. This is an adaptation of the recipe in Vegan Fire & Spice — the original version makes enough filling for a larger pie, and I decided to make a smaller one this year. Note: to save time, you can use ready-made pie shells, if you like.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
8 ounces vegan sausage, crumbled (homemade or purchased)
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1/4 cup vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, combine the flour, margarine, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. With the machine running, add enough water until a dough ball forms. Separate the dough into two equal balls, and refrigerate until needed.
In a large bowl combine the vegan sausage, tofu, soy parmesan, parsley, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, ground fennel seed, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Roll out the dough into 2 11-inch rounds. Place the bottom crust in a 10-inch pie plate, and spread the filling mixture over it. Cover with the top crust, pinching the edges, and prick with the tines of a fork. Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown.
Serves 6