Torta Rustica

3 cups plain flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
12 Tbsp. butter, chilled
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ice cold water (or more)


Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter and Crisco until mixture forms coarse crumbs (I usually resort to using fingers). Beat sour cream with cold water; stir into flour mixture to form smooth ball. Divide in 1/2 and pat into 2 rectangles. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour or longer before use.

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach
1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup finely shredded fresh Parmesan (about 6 oz.)
1 1/4 cups ripe pitted olives, chopped coarsely
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage
1 egg (for egg wash)


Prepare pastry and set aside. Thaw spinach and squeeze dry with hands. Blend together ricotta, Parmesan, olives, eggs, salt. Brown sausage and drain. Add spinach and cook a minute longer. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then combine with ricotta mixture. Roll out 1/2 of pastry into any shape chosen (helps to roll it out on floured wax paper and then turn upside down onto baking sheet). Transfer to baking sheet or stone. Beat egg with 1 tbsp. water and brush over pastry. Spoon filling onto pastry, leaving 1 inch border all around. Roll out other 1/2 of pastry on wax paper into matching shape and lay on top loosely. Roll up edges and press together with tines of fork. Brush top with egg wash. Cut 4-6 slits on top for steam vents. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more at this point if using sour cream pastry.

Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.