THE RECIPE BOX - Italian Rice Pie is an Easter tradition

THE RECIPE BOX - Italian Rice Pie is an Easter tradition

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The nice thing about this Italian Rice Pie is that you can make it with or without a crust. It is quite versatile in that you can serve it as most do for dessert, or as an acquired taste, for breakfast, too.

"We had two things at Easter time, rice pie and egg pie - you know the one with prosciutto and cheese," said Cindy Hersom, a Valley Breeze account representative in advertising sales for the North Providence area.

Cindy has fond memories of her grandmother Mary's home on the North Providence/Providence line. In fact, she and her 16-year-old son, along with her Aunt Tina, still reside in the dwelling that was built by her own father and her uncles when her father returned home from serving in Korea. There were seven siblings in all.

"Easter always meant baking rice pies. It was a big production," she said. They (her grandmother and her aunts) would spend a whole day making and baking the pies - so many that her grandmother used aluminum foil pie pans because they were given away to family members. "On Easter, everyone gathered at my grandmother's. She was the glue," said Cindy.

The pies took a whole day to make. "The mixing and assembling took place at my grandmother's," she said. "My Aunt Rose lived in the house next door and they shared back yards. I remember my cousin Lori and I would literally run the pies to my aunt's oven for baking next door because there were so many," Cindy said. There was such bonding that took place on pie day that today they are fond memories.

Cindy and her Aunt Tina still make rice pies for Easter, but a lesser amount. She makes one for her 80-year-old dad who lives in Milton, Mass., and one for her brother who lives locally. "They still like all the traditional stuff," she said.

She's a little sad that the Italian language is disappearing from the family, though. Cindy remembers her grandmother and aunts would always speak in Italian if a conversation wasn't meant for the younger ones to hear.

One day, she and her cousin Lori overheard that someone had died, the words and crying coming from her grandmother's kitchen.

Being teenage girls, they were savvy enough to catch just enough of the Italian words to piece together the story. "We got on the phone and called another aunt to get her to tell us what had happened," Cindy said. One phone call later, the girls were informed that their grandmother had been talking to her sister about a soap opera. So much for eavesdropping!

As for rice pie, it seems that there are many variations for this Italian "torta di riso." Some like to use a crust, but Cindy likes it best without and uses the 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. The bottom layer is dense with a creamy custard-like center. Other recipes may also add fresh squeezed lemon juice for a citrus flavor. Enjoy!


Italian Rice Pie

Ingredients:

8 eggs

1 & 1/4 cup sugar

2 cups cooked rice

1 cup milk

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 & 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (12-oz.)

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

1. Beat eggs in blender - add ricotta.

2. Put in large bowl. Add sugar.

3. Mix rice in milk. Add to egg mixture. (Note: Add rice and milk mixture slowly in intervals to the egg & ricotta)

4. Add crushed pineapple & vanilla.

5. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch pan.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes, until firm. (If using a crust, pour into uncooked single pie crust and bake for the same amount of time.)