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Sarno's Pastiera Napoletana

Prep Time:

1 hour active prep time, over 2 days

Cook Time:

3 days (with overnight soaking, cooking, and letting rest for 24 hours after cooking)


1 pastiera



About the Recipe

The Sarno's pastiera is the definition of a labor of love...and with a full on 3 day prep and cook time, you'll want to savor every last bite!


for the ricotta:

2 c whole milk ricotta

1 c superfine sugar

for the wheat berries:

10 oz soft white wheat berries

1 c whole milk

½ c unsalted butter

peel one orange

pinch salt

for the pasta frolla:

500 g all purpose flour

200 g sugar

1 c unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

3 ea eggs, large

2 Tbs honey

zest one orange

for the pastiera:

4 ea eggs, large

2 oz candied orange peel, diced

2 oz candied cedro, diced

2 oz candied lemon, diced

1½ tsp millefiori

1½ tsp fior d’arancio

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1 ea egg yolk


The night before cooking, stir the ricotta and superfine sugar together in a bowl. Transfer to a cheesecloth-lined colander, place the colander over a bowl to catch the draining liquid, then cover, and place in the fridge overnight.

Add the wheat berries to a bowl, and cover with water. Place cling film or foil over the top, and let soak overnight.

Make the pasta frolla. Sift the flour onto a work surface, and create a well in the middle. Place the sugar and butter in the center of the well. Begin to cream together the butter and sugar with your hands, then add in the eggs, honey and orange zest. Use your hands to beat the eggs into the creamed butter/sugar, then begin to incorporate the flour. Continue to work until the dough comes together into a smooth ball, then wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.

The next day, or while the pasta frolla is resting, strain the wheat berries, then place in a pot with water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the wheat berries are chewy and al dente, but not completely cooked through. Strain. 

Place the boiled wheat berries back into the pot, and add the half and half, milk, butter, peel of an orange, and a pinch of salt. Put the pot over medium low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook about 15 minutes until the wheat berries are soft. Let the pot cool, then place in the fridge to completely chill the wheat berries. 

Begin to assemble the filling. Separate the four eggs, placing the whites and yolks in different large bowls. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. 

Add the ricotta to the bowl with the egg yolks. Remove the large pieces of peel from the chilled wheat berries and discard, then add the wheat berries to the bowl. Stir in the candied fruits and the millefiori, fior d’arancio and vanilla. Mix all ingredients together to combine well, then gently fold in the egg whites.

Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, and divide into two pieces. Cut about ⅓ off each piece, and set aside. Roll out the first larger piece, until it is about an inch wider than your ruoto, or pie dish. Butter the inside of the ruoto, then dust with flour, before laying the rolled out pasta frolla inside. Press into the sides and the bottom to create an even shell, then pour in half the pastiera filling. Repeat with the second large piece of dough and the remaining filling to prepare the second pastiera. 

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out the remaining pasta frolla to about ¼ inch thick, and cut each piece into 7 strips, or striscioline, using a wheel pastry cutter or sharp knife. Lay the strips out on top of each pastiera, four across, then three perpendicular over the top. Use a knife to trim off the ends.

Whisk the last egg yolk, then brush over the top of the pastry gently. 

Place the oven rack in the center of the oven, then put the pastieras in to bake. Cook for about 50 minutes, or until the top is completely golden and the pastiera is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then let rest, covered in a clean towel, for 24 hours before serving. 

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