Spinach Pie

20 Aug

Today, around 11am, I realised I had a houseful of hungry women to feed – me, my sister, our mother, and the Au-Pair Nation (3 in total, though in M’s house it seems to be in constant flux!)… So went to the fridge to have a mosey about to figure out what I could cook. The quickest, easiest, and freshest thing seemed to be a spinach pie, with basil from the garden, and a ripe tomato to add colour, prettiness, and sweetness. I love cooking on the fly like this. I love checking out whats fresh, what looks delicious, and thinking up creative ways to cook it. This kind of meal is my favourite – unplanned, and yet with a certain urgency to it.

We sat down to eat at around 1230 or so – and the cooking was really a series of pottering about, mixing, tasting, stirring, sauteeing… It was very organic (as were the ingredients), and even baby Z got into the equation when she went to the garden to help Essia pick the basil! This pie will serve 6 – 8 people for lunch, and is wonderful on a hot summer’s day as it really does taste wonderful lukewarm, or even cold. You can try it with lots of different toppings (sauteed onions or mushrooms come to mind), and you can choose to add or subtract cheese, as is your wish. I used some sour cream and a little milk with the eggs, but if all you have is condensed milk, water, cream – use that. Its a very forgiving dish, and will really adapt to what you have.

Its also best, in my opinion, looking very rustic. This is not fancy restaurant fare. This is healthy, delectable home cooking, and it shouldnt pretend to (or try to) look polished and refined. There is a certain lustiness to this kind of cooking and food that people really respond well to.

I baked this in a medium sized Corningware dish, but if you want to bake it in a pie pan, go right ahead. Its easy peasy, and so delicious. Plus, I find people love pie. It feels like you have done a huge amount of work, when you really havent – and they feel like you have treated them to something magical.

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached organic flour plus extra for rolling out
  • 3/4 stick (6 tbsp) frozen butter, grated
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or parmesan, pecorino, goats cheese, whatever you like)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170C

Measure the flour into a small bowl, and grate the butter over. Use your fingers to mix the butter in well, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese and salt and pepper in, and using your fingers again, mix well.

Break the egg into the flour mixture, and mix well, until a dough forms. Knead this dough, using the heel of your palm, until it feels very soft and elastic.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes in the fridge, and then roll it out, very thin, flouring your rolling surface and pin first.

Transfer the dough to your baking pan, ensuring that its even, and goes up the sides of the pan, and prick all over with a fork, remembering to prick along the sides as well.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust has browned nicely. Remove from oven, and allow to cool, though if you are cooking the filling whilst baking the crust, its fine to assemble immediately upon removing the crust from the oven. Dont mind the sizzle 😉

Filling + Assembly

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 (Vidalia) onion, chopped well
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 – 5 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into 6 even slices
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk, cream or half and half
  • 2 + 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • A few rough chunks of goats or sheep cheese, roughly chopped (optional)

In a large frying pan, over medium heat, saute the chopped onion in the olive oil, and season well with salt, pepper and dried basil. Once the onion has become soft and glossy, add the white wine, and allow to simmer until the wine has almost completely reduced.

Add the chopped spinach all at once, and saute until wilted. Remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes.

Chop the basil leaves fine, reserving 6 for the top of the pie, and mix the rest into the cooled spinach. Cut a large tomato into six equal slices, and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat together the ggs, sour cream, milk and 2 tbsp parmesan.

Mix the egg mixture into the spinach mixture, and taste for seasoning. Adjust if needed.

Pour the spinach-egg mixture into the pre-baked crust. Lay the reserved tomato slices on top, and top them with the six reserved basil slices. Strew a few chunks of goat’s cheese into the pie, if you feel like it (I kind of poked them into the filling), and sprinkle about 1 tbsp parmesan over all.

Bake for about 40 minutes in a 170 C oven, and allow to cool for at least 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

2 Responses to “Spinach Pie”

  1. goddessmoments August 20, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    Am totally responding to the lustiness! Droooollll……

    • delectableblog August 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

      Thank you … making a Goddess drool is a gooood thing 😉

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