Pastiera Napoletana is a classic Easter dessert, it’s most commonly made using cooked wheat. Here I propose a version made with arborio rice and home-made candied orange. This dessert can be made a few days before Easter to let the flavors intensify, it is traditionally made on Good Friday to be had as a dessert on Easter Sunday.
Rice Pastiera with home-made candied orange
Ingredients for pastry:
1/2 cup unsalted cold butter
2 cups of flour (substitute with rice flour for a gluten free pastiera)
1 whole egg, plus one yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup icing sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
Ingredients for the filling:
2 cups cooked arborio rice
1/2 lemon zest
1/2 orange zest
2 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
2 cups ricotta
2 whole eggs, plus two yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 candied orange* recipe below
Ingredients for the candied orange
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
segments of 1 orange cut in cubes, 1/4 of the orange peel cut into tiny cubes
To make the pastry:
Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Chop the cold butter into small pieces and rub into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs (you can also use a food processor). Add the egg and vanilla essence, lemon zest and knead until the mixture comes together. Wrap in plastic film and chill for a couple of hours.
Follow the directions on the package of arborio rice to make 2 cups of cooked rice. Let cool. When you are ready to make the filling heat the rice in a saucepan over medium heat with the butter, milk and lemon and orange zest. Bring it to a low boil for about ten minutes and stir occasionally. Place the mixture in large bowl, let cool and place in the refrigerator.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and orange blossom water. Place in refrigerator. It’s best to make the filling one day before and allow the flavors to marry overnight in the refrigerator.
Bring water and sugar to boil in a skillet, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add cubed orange and peel to skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and barely simmer for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally. Allow the orange to cool in the syrup. Using a slotted spoon place the candied orange or a parchment paper until ready to use.
Roll out about two thirds of the pastry and place in a greased 11 inch springform pan or a deep tart pan with removable bottom. Gently cut off the extra pastry around the edges and add to the remaining pastry, roll out the rest of the pastry and with a crimper pastry wheel cut long strips about 1 1/2 inch wide.
Fold the rice mixture with the ricotta mixture and add the candied oranges. Fill the pastry lined spirngform pan. Gently place the lattice strips to the edge of the pastry in a criss-cross. Brush the lattice gently with some egg to make it shiny.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 395 degree F. for about 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown. The house will be filled with a beautiful aroma of orange blossom.
Allow to cool completely before removing from pan, it’s best to serve it one day after. The Pastiera can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days