Torta di Riso

There are a handful of desserts my mom and aunts make just for Easter.  Torta di Riso, or rice pie, is one of them but interestingly enough, it’s not traditional to the region my parents are from, Lazio.  After some researching online, I found that this is a northern Italian Easter dessert.  It features Arborio rice (you must use Arborio), eggs (seven of them!), ricotta and has a light lemon flavor.  It can be made with or without a bottom crust; I made it with a homemade crust that was really simple.  Torta di Riso is quite delicious so, however it made it’s way into my family’s Easter tradition, I’m happy it did!   

Note: this isn’t a difficult recipe, but there are a lot of steps.  If you read through the whole recipe first, before starting it, it’ll make more sense and be easier to follow.

Torta di Riso (Italian Rice Pie)

 Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces

1 large egg

3 tbsp ice water

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food process.  Pulse a few times to combine.   Add the cold, cut up butter and pulse until the dough becomes crumbly in texture.

Add cut up butter
Crumbly texture after pulsing the butter

Add the egg and pulse repeatedly until the dough beings to stick together.   Then add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time and pulsing in between, until the dough is holding together well.

Dough after adding egg and ice water

Place the dough on a floured board or work surface.  Use your hands to form into a circle, then flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Dough on floured surface
Form into a ball
Flatten into disc

Filling:

3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice (Italian short-grain rice)

3 cups milk

1 cup water

7 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon extract

zest of one lemon

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 pound ricotta cheese, drained

To drain the ricotta cheese, I used a thin dish towel.  Lay the dish towel flat, place the ricotta on top of and in the center of the dish towel.  Then squeeze the ricotta by twisting the dish towel (over a sink or bowl preferably!)   Set the ricotta aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place ricotta onto dish towel
Wrap it up and twist/squeeze the liquid out of the cheese

Place rice, milk and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Uncooked Arborio rice

The rice is done when most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is sticky.  It should still be a little firm because it will continue cooking in the oven.  Remove from heat, drain excess liquid and set aside.

Cooked Arborio rice

Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until well combined.

Eggs and sugar

Add lemon extract and vanilla extract and beat on low for just a few seconds.  Add the drained ricotta and lemon zest and beat until just combined.

Add ricotta to egg mixture

Add the cooked rice and mix, by hand (not using the mixer) until well combined.  Make sure there are no lumps of sticky rice.  Place the mixture in the fridge and take out the dough.

Add rice and combine; no lumps!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat either a 10.5-inch pie plate or a 9×13″ or 11×15″ rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.   Place the cold dough on a floured surfaced and roll it out to fit your baking dish.  Transfer the dough to your prepared dish, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides.   Then place the crust into the freezer while the oven continues to preheat.

Place crust into baking dish

When oven is preheated, remove the baking dish from the freezer and pour the rice/ricotta filling.  Don’t overfill because the rice and ricotta filling will puff up as it’s baking. 

Add filling to the crust

Bake for about 50-60 minutes.  It is done when the filling has puffed up, it is a golden color and the center is set, meaning it’s firm and doesn’t jiggle when you move the baking dish.    Let the pie cool on wire rack then dust with powdered sugar.  It can be served room temperature or chilled and stays for 3-4 days in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Torta di Riso

6 Comments

  • I have to admit, as much as I love Italian food, I’ve always felt Italian desserts were uninteresting. In general the lack of chocolate, and the emphasis on ingredients like anisette, (which tastes a little too much like Robitussin for me) has put me off a bit.

    All of that said, the Easter pies are tremendous. i love them. But never thought to make one. Maybe I’ll give this a shot. It looks amazing.

  • My roots are very Irish but being in a “total” Italian family for 40+ years has given me a wonderful reason to cook perfect rustic Italian dishes. My mother in law was not much with main meals, that was my father in laws deal, however, she could make wonderful traditional holiday desserts. This recepie is, right on the money, like she used to make. She never left any written recipes but I never left her side while she was baking. Gonna give this one a try for Easter and I’m sure it will be a keeper. Thanks!

  • Sully, obviously you don’t know any Italian chocolate cookie recipes. I have a few for you. Toto, mostaccioli, chocolate pizzelles and guess what—-no anise in any of them. You need to explore different recipes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.