In my family, food is everything. No matter what’s happening in our personal lives or in the world around us, it’s important to make our traditional recipes at the appropriate times throughout the year, no exceptions. Being vegan is no longer an excuse.
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Every Easter, my grandmother (and later my mother) would make two different kinds of pie: pizza rustica, which is an extravagant meat, cheese, and egg pie; and rice pie, a sweet custardy pie with short-grain rice and ricotta cheese. The tradition continues to this day, but as a vegan, I could no longer participate in the ritual of preparation or the celebration of consuming these decadent pastries. This year, I’ve decided to tackle both recipes to share with you. (The recipe for pizza rustica will be coming in the next couple of weeks.)
I have made a couple of changes to the recipe (apart from the obvious veganizing) because, to be honest, rice pie was always my lesser preference of the two. It was always too grainy (not exactly a surprise considering it’s literally a grain pie), too bland (certainly compared to the explosively flavored pizza rustica), and not particularly sweet. With my mother’s blessing, I present to you my version of Easter Rice Pie.
First off, you need to boil your rice. Choose any soft white rice you’d like. While my grandmother would always use a short-grain rice, I’m making my first deviation by using long-grain jasmine for its soft texture and slight fragrance. This should go without saying, but make sure you rinse the rice first! I AM saying it because I forgot to do it, so my filling ended up a bit on the starchy/gluey side. You want to make sure you cook the rice until it’s quite soft, though perhaps not quite mushy. Once it’s cooked, cool slightly but don’t chill it. While you’re doing that, press a package of silken tofu. Don’t worry too much about getting out every last drop of liquid; just make sure it’s not dripping wet.
Now to make the filling. Add the rice and tofu into the blender. Originally, our family recipe didn’t consist of blending the rice. I think that’s a major reason why I never really cared for it; my brain’s expectation of a smooth cheesecake-like filling didn’t gel well with the lumpiness of the rice. Blending the mixture gives a happy medium between creamy custard and hearty texture. It may look a little too dry, but that’s what you want. If you need to add a tiny bit of water to get it to blend, do so, but proceed with caution. This is the texture you’re looking for:
Now blend in the sugar. As you can see, the sugar helps to loosen and liquefy the mixture.
Once this mix is as smooth as possible, add a generous pinch of salt as well as your flavorings. Traditionally we use vanilla extract and cinnamon, and while they are still present in this version, I’ve added my own spin with a pinch of cardamom and, more significantly, orange blossom water. You absolutely do not have to add these, but I love the exotic touch they add. Go easy on the water as even a tiny bit too much can make the whole thing taste soapy. Start with a scant teaspoon, taste, and add more as desired. I added a tablespoon. I also threw in the zest of one lemon, but again, this is not traditional.
Pour this mix into your pie crust. You can find a super-easy pie crust recipe here, but today, I decided to go the super-SUPER-easy route and use a store-bought crust.
Now all that’s left is to bake the pie for about an hour, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling just barely jiggles in the middle. You will probably need to cover the pie with foil halfway through baking, though you should spray the foil with cooking spray or it will stick like mine did in spots.
And there it is! The filling puffs a bit while baking, but I took this photo once it was cool and sank a bit. You can serve this warm (my preference) or room temperature. I personally don’t care for it straight out of the fridge, but some people in my family do, so do so if you prefer. I like to serve it with a generous dollop of whipped coconut cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or Easter-themed sprinkles.
The result is a sweet, creamy, and flavorful pie, perfect for any time of year. I hope that you try this very simple and delicious recipe, and that you let me know how it turned out. Check back in two weeks when I will be posting my vegan version of pizza rustica!
Easter Rice Pie | Printable Version
Makes 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
1 c + 1 T all-purpose flour
¼ t salt
3 T unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
¼ c canola oil
3 c soft-cooked short-grain or jasmine rice
20 oz firm or silken tofu, well drained
1 ½ c sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
½ t ground cardamom
¼ t salt
1 T orange blossom water
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
- For crust, sift or whisk together flour and salt.
- Pour milk and oil into the same measuring cup. DO NOT MIX.
- Pour liquid into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper until large enough to fit in a 9” pie plate.
- Transfer dough to a 9” pie plate, removing the waxed paper.
- Blend the filling ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into pie crust.
- Bake for one hour, or until crust is golden brown and filling is almost set. Serve warm or chilled.