Nana’s Grain Pie

Nana’s Grain Pie

If you celebrate Easter, this dessert is a family tradition that I look forward to indulging in all year. My mother and I are virtually cooking it together tomorrow as we both want one for our Easter celebrations. Sadly, we won’t be together this year, but having this sweet cake (on this occassion I used ramekins to make mini cakes) on our menus will make us feel like we are. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, you may want to try this dessert, especially if you like the idea of rice pudding and cheesecake having baby. This post was originally printed on April 5, 2012. Now I’ll hand it over to myself….

The type of Easter that I cultivate for my daughter is not far from the kind of fan fare I experienced while growing up. There are a few things that have changed. For instance, Scarlett doesn’t have an older brother who tells her he swears he just saw the Easter bunny leaving the yard via his red corvette. (Honestly, that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the crazy shit he told me.) I love masterminding a massive egg hunt like my mother used to for us. I totally get into hiding eggs all over the main floor of our house and the more the better. However, there is one thing our holiday has been missing–my nana’s grain pie.

A typical Italian Easter dessert, my father’s mom passed this recipe to my mother and she has made it each year for Easter festivities big and small. My whole family enjoys it, but it would be a tough contest between my father and myself for who likes it more. In fact, the only other directions I received when my mom emailed me the grain pie recipe for this very post was “cook for 1 hour, then send all leftovers to Daddy!” I ate it all. Sorry, Daddy.

My grandmother’s original grain pie recipe included candied fruit like the more traditional pies but my mother swapped them out for chocolate chips. I know. How could she?! But, I’ve got to tell you, it’s all about the chocolate. Also, many moons ago when my mother started making this dish, she decided to lose the pie crust. In all her 70’s meat and potatoes cooking glory, she had the foresight to see the need for a healthier version. Instead she’d put the filling in a baking dish and I’ve never once missed the crust. And based on her note, neither has my dad.

Photos by Maya Visnyei

Nana’s Grain Pie


  • 8 eggs
  • 6 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cooked Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • butter for greasing


Preheat oven to 375

Make risotto according to package directions.

Set aside.

Grease a 9 x 11 baking dish with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs while gradually adding sugar.

Mix in ricotta, risotto, lemon juice, vanilla and cinnamon.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared baking pan and bake in the oven on the middle rack for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before serving.


Even if you don’t celebrate Easter this is a great dessert for a special occasion or a big Sunday brunch with family.

Scarlett and I loved making this family dessert together. It’s a tradition I hope to continue each Easter. After all, Scarlett will one day grow out of the egg hunt I so excitedly prepare for her each year. (My heart just broke writing that.) But, like myself or my dad before me, she will never grow out of loving this pie. That’s something I know my grandmother would love.


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  1. laurie
    April 05, 10:48 Reply

    sounds really good, but what degree do we heat the oven to?

    • Ceri Marsh
      April 06, 10:31 Reply

      Hi Laurie,
      Sorry about that – it’s 375! Thanks for the eagle eyes! Let us know if you try it. Hope you have a great long weekend!

  2. Mike Lucas
    April 07, 08:25 Reply

    I was wondering why in the directions we are to use a 9″ x 11″ baking dish, but the pictures it looks like the pies are in ramakins??

  3. Al
    April 08, 11:44 Reply

    As the above referenced big brother you have to understand that the amount of crazy s&!t was directly proportional to the level gullability. I mean, why not make up crazy s&!t if you’ve got an audience that’ll believe whatever crazyness you serve up.

  4. Marie
    September 08, 10:14 Reply

    This sounds and look delicious! I love any kind of baked pudding/custard and will be trying this asap.

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