It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Easter. I’m not religious, so it’s not like I’ve been succumbing to the pressures of Lent or anything. I just love Easter. Spring is springing up around me, the sun is shining, the temperature is ideal, and Easter Sunday is the perfect excuse to eat and drink some of my favorite things. Easter is the day when I drink a bottle of champagne with no shame. It is also the day that I consume my weight in carrot cake, deviled eggs and lamb. Yes, we are a lamb family. I recently read in the NY Times that the average American consumes less that one pound of lamb per year. Well, I probably consume that in one day.
The days leading up to Easter are some of my favorite as well, as my dad always takes the day off work on Friday to make his family recipe of Easter Pies. If you haven’t eaten a Vella Family Easter Pie, you haven’t lived…ok just kidding, but I would rather not live than go one Easter Holiday without the goodness of our pies.
So here’s the thing, they aren’t really pie – they are sort of like calzones, except they have a dense buttery crust, not fluffy in the least. We make two different pies, one is filled with spinach, sultanas (golden raisins), a little salt, a little olive oil and lots and lots of red pepper. They are spicy and sweet and so, so good. We also make a sausage pie with loads of spicy sausage, eggs, ricotta, grated parmesan, and all the chopped parsley in the world. Each pie is baked until it’s nice and golden, sliced into thin strips and served cold. They.Are.Perfection. But what’s even better is baking them with my dad. A memory I’ll hold on to forever, we brown sausage, laugh a lot, mix our hands into ooey gooey ricotta, and roll out dough for days, it seems.
This is another recipe from my Vella Sbarra Family cookbook and my dad has been perfecting the recipe for years and years. He has tweaked the recipe each year to increase the flavor, improve the dough, and bake them to the perfect temp. So really, that one blog I posted a few weeks back about perfecting my family cookbook is old news — my dad has been doing it for ages. Only now I’m old enough and care enough to help. It’s just my favorite time of year, good food, good drinks and perfect family memories, all baked into a pie.