Learn how to make Pastiera, the unique baked dessert also known as Neapolitan Easter Pie
Pastiera is an indulgent Easter dessert that traditionally features creamy ricotta and wheat berries.
It is very close in texture to a cheesecake but resembles a pie. Originating in Italy, this dessert is made no later than Good Friday so that all of the flavors infuse before Easter Sunday.
Normally, this dessert is served for breakfast (and who doesn’t love dessert for breakfast?!) or as an accompaniment to tea in the afternoon.
While the name is slightly confusing, wheat berries are not actually any kind of berry!
They are the most basic form of wheat and are the result of the husk being removed from the wheat grain kernel. They have a nutty sort of flavor with hints of sweetness, which is why they work so well in this dish, especially when paired with the tang of the ricotta and zing of the orange zest.
So, why is this dessert traditionally served at Easter you may wonder? There are a few theories about the origins of this delicious dessert, but the one we like most goes back to Naples.
The theory goes that the poor people living in the area were extremely hungry. So hungry, in fact, that when the grain ship arrived, they didn't want to have to wait for baked bread and would boil the grains instead.
This desperation for food reminded many people of how much they needed Jesus in their lives, and so this dessert represents this need in a few ways. The ricotta is a gift from the shepherds that had welcomed Jesus at his birth and the orange flower water represents the new life that we recognize during the spring.
This recipe is a delicious take on this joyful Easter dessert which yields a 10-inch pie (also known as Neapolitan Easter Pie). You may want to start prep on this ahead of time, as there are quite a few components and the wheat berries have to be soaked overnight!