Though Laurel has been more experimental with vegetables since we embarked on our CSA journey last year, green vegetables (save cucumbers) remain a sticking point. Until recently, when my sister Jenn brought over a spinach pie and Laurel shocked me by both offering to try it (usually I have to ask) and loving it. So of course I was eager to find an easy recipe to take advantage of this new love. And I found it in Nick Stellino's Mediterranean Flavors (notably also the source of this moussaka recipe Laurel loves).
The thing that struck me about the pie Jenn brought was that there was no crust, given that the spinach pie recipes I have tried in the past all had a bottom crust. The Stellino recipe instead features a puff pastry top. I made Stellino's recipe as below and it was promptly devoured. The second time around I skipped the puff pastry (I didn't have any on hand, plus, the frozen puff pastry I bought for the first attempt seemed really expensive) and though the pie lost height (you could resolve that by making it in a smaller pan), it was just as good and we enjoyed it on toasted pieces of crusty bread. Delicious. And also promptly devoured.
This pie is perfect; it's easy to knock together and is now a guaranteed way of getting green veggies into Laurel. Enjoy!
Nick Stellino's Spinach and Cheese Pie
Steps abridged and annotated below by Christine Koh
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 10-oz packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture
1 cup ricotta cheese
1.5 cups (3/4 lb) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Heat olive oil on high heat in a pan. Add onion and cook one minute, then add garlic and spices (I skipped the red pepper flakes and didn't really measure the other spices -- just estimated by sprinkling direct from the containers -- and it worked out fine). Cook 2-3 minutes until the onion begins to brown. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the spinach, three cheeses, and 2 of the eggs. Spread evenly into prepared baking dish.
2. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured board until large enough to cover the pie. Lay on top of the spinach pie filling, tucking edges if there is excess. Lightly score top into 8 squares, taking care not to cut all the way through. Beat remaining egg and brush over top of the puff pastry.
3. Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes. Increase temperature to 425 degrees, remove foil, and bake for additional 15 min. Cool 15 minutes and serve.
**When I skipped the puff pastry the second time around, I simply baked the pie uncovered for about 35 or so minutes at 400 degrees. The top didn't get brown and crispy (as you would see with a lasagna for example), but I could see the bottom (through the glass dish) getting light brown so I pulled it out.
Image credits: 1 -- Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net; 2 -- Christine Koh