Easter recipe for Italian cheese pie

A typical Italian Cheese Pie isn’t exactly heart-healthy, thanks to the heavy use of cheese, eggs, nuts, butter, and whole milk or cream. This variation uses a light crust (“light” by using reduced-calorie, reduced-fat margarine) and a slimmed-down filling of nonfat milk, part-skim ricotta and fat- and cholesterol-free egg substitute.

Flavor isn’t compromised, and the distinct tastes of almonds, vanilla, and orange zest create a unique balance between nutty, sweet and tart. This Easter, enjoy a dessert that’s not only rich and light, but also an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamins A and D.

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 tablespoons light margarine, chilled

2-3 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

1 1/2; cups nonfat milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup fat-free egg substitute

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

To make the crust, in a large bowl or food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine flour and sugar. Add margarine and process or mix together with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and process or mix until a manageable dough forms. Turn dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle. Press dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the bottom all over with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk and cornstarch. Once cornstarch has dissolved, add remaining milk and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour mixture into prepared crust and smooth over top.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 25-30 more minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Turn oven off, open oven door and leave pie inside for 30 minutes (slow cooking prevents cracking). Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve – serves eight.

Nutritional information (per serving)

Calories: 241 Fat: 7 grams (26 percent) Protein: 10 grams Carbohydrates: 33 grams Sodium: 128 mg

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