Easter in Italy is a celebration of food and tradition. One inedible food memory for Italians and Italian-Americans who grew up celebrating Old World food traditions is Pizza rustica (Italian Easter Pie), a luscious and filling pastry stuffed with meats and cheeses. Mixed in with assorted Italian meats (sausage, pepperoni, salami or prosciutto) and hard-boiled eggs is a special type of cheese only made during this time of the year. A unique ingredient, basket cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and rennet, an enzyme that causes milk to become cheese by separating it into the solid curds and liquid whey. Basket cheese gets its name from the plastic basket in which it is formed and the indentations that give it a distinctive name and look.
Meant to be eaten seasonally, after the Good Friday fast, basket cheese is part of the tradition and ritual of an Italian Easter.