Updated: Apr 9, 2020
This recipe is based on a traditional Easter rice pie dish, Pastiera di Riso. Growing up we'd always have this pastry at Easter time - Nonna would make big trays of it. This isn't the easiest recipe to veganise - with ricotta and eggs as key ingredients for the filling! To substitute, I've used tofu for the ricotta and cornflour to thicken instead of eggs. If you're not into tofu, you can use another plant based ricotta. Or simply omit the tofu and don't worry about the 'ricotta' element...it will still be delicious. Buona Pasqua a tutti!
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups full fat soy milk
1 cup hot water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
200g soft or silken tofu
1/3 cup cornflour whisked into ½ cup soy milk
1 ¾ cup plain flour
¼ cup sugar
½ cup vegan butter or margarine
¾ tsp baking powder
dash of cold water (approximately 3 tablespoons)
Into a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Break up the butter into chunks and add to the flour. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until moist crumbs begin to form.
Use your hands to squash the mixture together to form the dough. Add dashes of cold water to bring the dough together. If the dough happens to be too dry, add a dash more water. Too moist, add a dash more flour. Turn the dough onto a bench and form into a smooth ball. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Add the rice and 3 cups of milk to a medium saucepan. Once the milk heats, turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent from sticking or burning. You must really watch this. The rice will stick more easily as it is a thicker cooking liquid than water. But soy milk creates a creamier rice filling. Add the hot water as the liquid reduces.
Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is plump, yet slightly al dente. You may have to add a splash more soy milk or hot water along the way. You want the rice cooked and all the liquid absorbed. Take off the heat.
Add the sugar, vanilla and lemon zest to the cooked rice. Either pre-mash the tofu and stir through the rice. Or add the tofu* and mash it into the rice, using a potato masher or vigorous stirring. You want your tofu to blend into the rice.
*If you only have extra firm tofu on hand, blend in a food processor with a little soy milk until smooth, then stir through the rice.
Stir the cornflour-milk mix into the rice. The filling will be quite wet, like porridge, but it will thicken when you allow it to stand. Set the rice aside for at least 20-30 minutes to thicken.
Preheat a fan forced oven to 185C.
Grease a 20-25cm round pie dish or round pan.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out onto a well-floured surface or onto a piece of baking paper. The baking paper helps prevent the dough from sticking and breaking apart. Generously flour the surface of the dough also. Roll the dough into a large rough circle, approximately the size of your pie dish.
Place the pastry into the dish, and if using the baking paper, carefully peel the paper away from the dough. Fit the dough into the dish, pressing the dough against the sides. If you have excess dough, roll out and cut strips the length of the pie dish. Arrange strips over the pie, creating a criss-cross pattern.
Place pie in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is set.
Allow to cool completely before slicing. This tastes even better the next day. Dust generously with icing sugar.
This is also delicious served cold for breakfast, with a side of coffee of course.
Store covered in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.