Paleo Pizzagaina (Italian Easter Pie)

paleo-italian-easter-pie-pizzagainaHappy Easter! Buona Pasqua! I realize this recipe is after the fact, but I just HAD to share it with you. It’s never too late to make Italian Easter Pie! You’re never going to believe this is gluten free, dairy free, grain free, and totally paleo.

There are some family traditions you just can’t pass up. Coming from an Italian-American family most of my traditions are food related. They usually involve a lot of non-paleo treats. This time of year makes me miss my Nan a lot. Her food was always so good. I can’t remember anything she made that I didn’t fall in love with.

My Nan (grandmother) made this meat and cheese pie every Easter. It was my favorite. Before she passed she wrote the recipe down for me. The last 2 Easters I haven’t made/eaten it because it is sooo not paleo. Basically the only thing in it that’s paleo are eggs and meat cubes. But that didn’t stop me from recreating my Nan’s Pizzagaina.

mangia-paleo-pizza-gain-gluten-free-dairy-freePizzagaina, or Pizza Gain, is a savory meat and cheese pie served on Easter in Italian-American households. There are many names for this savory pie and I have heard it pronounced several different ways. Pizzagaina. Pizza Gain. Pizza Chena. Pizza Piena. Torta Pasqualina. Italian Easter Pie. Pizza Rustica. Italian Meat Pie. Italian Easter Ham Pie. All of these describe this savory pie filled with ricotta, mozzarella, ham, and cured meats like pepperoni and salami. The recipe from my Nan written to me is titled “Pizza Piena” but we always pronounced it “pizza gain”. Weird, I know. Pizza Piena literally means a full pie (piena means flood or full I think).

paleo-gluten-free-pie-doughThere are two types of crust for this pie. Some use a traditional pie crust or a pizza dough crust. My Nan used a pie crust, not dough, to make hers. So that is what I did! The paleo ingredients limits our crust abilities, but The Healthy Foodie has a great traditional pie crust that worked perfectly.

Remember to use a deep pie plate. This pie is supposed to be thick and full of meat and ‘cheese’.

italian-easter-pie-paleo-lactose-free-paleoThis recipe is a 3 step process. Crust. Cheese. Putting it all together.




  • 2 cups cashews, soaked 4+ hours
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3-4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves

Cashew Cheese Directions:

First, soak cashews by adding the nuts to a bowl and cover all the way with water. When soft, drain water. Add cashews to a food processor and pulse until crumbs form. Then add all other ingredients and blend until combined. Consistency should be like ricotta cheese. If it is too thick add more almond milk.


  • 2 cups Paleo cashew ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, cubed
  • 1/2 cup salami, cubed
  • 1/2 cup ham, cubed
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp each pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1/3 tsp sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup zucchini cheese (optional) Recipe here


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a greased pie plate with the dough and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix cashew cheese, eggs, cubed meats, optional zucchini cheese, and seasonings.
  4. Fill the pie with the mixture. Then lay another pie crust or crust strips on top, pinching it to the bottom crust to seal it together.
  5. Bake in oven for 45 min-1 hour. The time depends on the thickness of your pie. This was about 3+ inches tall and I baked for 1 hour.

I added a bit of zucchini cheese to mine. Although it was not prevalent in taste, the gelatin may have contributed to the consistency of the pie when baked and cooled. Feedback appreciated. 🙂

italian-easter-savory-pie-recipe-paleoINSIDE SCOOP: Just like the real thing, it’s always better the next day. I suggest baking it on Good Friday, refrigerating it, and serving it room temp on Easter Sunday.

I’m not sure if my Nan would be impressed or confused that I made a paleo version of her recipe. Hopefully she is in heaven beaming with pride. <3


9 thoughts on “Paleo Pizzagaina (Italian Easter Pie)

  1. Lorenzo

    […piena means flood or full I think…]
    I confirm that “piena” means “full” in italian, and in my zone this recipe is called “Torta Pasqualina” as you said.
    However it’s a great way to make paleo a non-paleo recipe; congratulations =) =) …

    Best regards …

    1. Mangia Paleo

      Hmm, that’s a tough one. Although there are plenty of egg substitutes for binding purposes this recipe calls for 6 of them. That’s a lot to mess around with and yield similar results. I am not sure what the equivalent would be without jeopardizing the taste or structure of the pie. Maybe pureed sweet or white potato with arrowroot starch or flax seed.

  2. Pingback: Italian Easter Dinner Menu – Mangia Paleo

    1. Mangia Paleo

      Hi Susan,

      I cannot think of another substitute that also mimics the nutty and sweet ricotta characteristics. You may try a dairy-free ricotta recipe with coconut milk, but I really do not think it will taste the best with this pizzagaina recipe.


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