Forever Nigella 8 - Picnic Pleasure - Pizza Rustica

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

When I heard that this month's Forever Nigella theme was Picnics (hosted by Fuss Free Flavours), I knew what I was going to cook. It's a recipe I'd read years ago and somehow never got round to buying the ingredients for and making it. It's Nigella's Pizza Rustica - or rather a version of it as I fiddled about with quantities and added some things.

When I first read the recipe, I imagined it as some kind of Italian-ised pork pie filled with proscuitto, pork sausage and mortadella. But, while making my shopping list I realised how much cheese there is in the pie. A whole ball of mozzarella, one large tub of ricotta and a big chunk of Parmesan, as well as some smoked cheese too. So what you actually get is a bacony, cheesy pie rather than one packed with tons of pieces of meat, which is what I first expected.

I love the look of the pie - it has a really homely, almost Medieval look about it, all rustic and knobbly. The pastry isn't completely uniform in thickness, and if any of it splits a bit while you're lining your tin, just patch it up with other bits as you go along.  And when you pour the creamy filling into the pie case, don't despair. It will harden on cooking, into a light but intensely savoury pie.

I substituted Nigella's home-made pastry for shop-bought shortcrust pastry, not because I felt it would taste better - in fact the opposite is probably true - but just out of sheer convenience. I know that making pastry is easy, but I wondered if shop-bought would work and it did.

I also increased the quantity of sausages for a slightly meatier pie and added some smoked streaky bacon in place of the mortadella in the original recipe. I couldn't get smoked provolone from the supermarket and so opted instead for some of the smoked Austrian stuff you get in those little orange sausage-shapes. And in the original, Nigella specifies using half a garlic clove. Hating food waste in any form, and not knowing really what I would do with the other tiny half of the clove, I chucked in a whole one.

And the result was a firm, shallow but magnificent egg-glazed pie. We ate ours cold, and I would take this to a picnic any day. Nigella reckons you would get 10 slices out of this, which works out at a cost of 84p per serving, which is pretty good. I've written out my version here.

Nigella's Pizza Rustica (adapted)
Cuts into around 10 slices

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 3 plain pork sausages (not chipolatas, the chunky ones!), skinned
  • 3 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon, chopped
  • 250g ricotta
  • 50g smoked Austrian cheese, chopped
  • 125g ball mozzarella
  • 30g grated Parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • generous pinch chilli powder or paprika
  • 100g Proscuitto, chopped into chunks
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • black pepper
  • 1 x 500g pack of ready to roll shortcrust pastry
  • 1 heaped tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • 1 beaten egg, to glaze
  1. Butter the base and sides of a 22cm springform cake tin. (If you're still worried about it sticking, put a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom before you butter it.) Preheat your oven to 200C.
  2. Cut your block of pastry into three pieces and roll them out into strips, about 3mm thick. Overlap these so they cover the sides and base of the tin and fall over the outside edges. Push down gently to make an even surface on the bottom.
  3. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the base of the pie.
  4. Now, get on with your filling. Drizzle about a tablespoon of the olive oil into a pan and fry the skinned sausages for a couple of minutes until cooked and slightly golden, breaking up the meat as you go. Throw in the diced bacon and cook, stirring until just cooked. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  5. Tip the other ingredients into the pan and heat gently. The cheeses will all begin to melt together into a creamy sauce. Once everything is hot and melted, take off the heat and stir in your sausage and bacon mixture.
  6. Pour the cheesy mixture into the prepared pastry case and bring the pastry that has fallen over the sides of the tin over the top, overlapping them to cover the pie. Prick with a fork 3-4 times to allow the steam to escape.
  7. Brush with the beaten egg, and bake for 10 minutes at 200C. Then turn down to 180C and bake for a further 45 minutes.  

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    1. That looks absolutely magnificent! I spotted that recipe when choosing my entry for Forever Nigella and it sounded really scrummy, glad to hear it worked out so well!

    2. That looks rich and delicious. I bet it would taste even better cold than fresh out of the oven. It's perfect picnic food!

    3. Half a garlic clove does sound a bit strange, I don't think I've ever heard of another recipe specifying half a garlic clove. I think you did right to use the whole thing! This looks perfect for a picnic, thanks for taking part in Forever Nigella this month!

    4. Wow! Looks delicious :) And I agree that half a clove of garlic is strange! I love garlic so probably would have used even more! :D lol

    5. Kate - it was really scrummy and I'd make it again, for definite. I'm only cross with myself for not making it sooner. It might also be a lunchbox solution when the children go back to school soon! :)

      Claire - We ate it cooled but not chilled when I made it, but to be honest I much prefer grabbing a chunk of it cold from the fridge for lunch or a snack. Thanks for coming by! :)

      Sarah - yeah I thought that was a bit un-Nigella-ish, putting in half a clove of garlic. But just goes to show, it was delicious with a whole one in! Thanks for reading :)

      Aimee - hello! I was tempted to be honest to put more than one clove because I love garlic too, but I reckon it works brilliantly with just one now! Thanks for your comment! :)

    6. I've been wanting to make this for a while. It looks delicious! I love its "medieval" look, too!

    7. Hi Lauren, it's great because normally the way I make pies etc they don't turn out really 'pretty' so with this one it doesn't matter because it's supposed to look rustic :) !
      If you do decide to make it, hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

    8. I've had this in my inbox taunting me for a few days before I visited - I totally love the sound of this dish, meaty, substantial, comforting! It ticks a lot of boxes and sounds a lot less sinful than a pork pie (my other meaty substantial comfort food!).

      Thanks for taking part in Forever Nigella!

    9. No problem Sarah, loved doing it :)


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