Do you already make spinach pie? If you don’t, you must hurry as this is the simplest one-dish dinner you can make besides a plate of pasta. I learned the original Serbian recipe from my artist friend Natasa Karanovic when we were living the bohemian life in the country of windmills and houseboats. Ah, the memories!
After more than 20 years this is still a family staple because it’s ridiculously quick to make, delicious and vegetarian. This is my gluten-free version, but if you can’t stand dietetic restrictions, you can add some diced ham or pancetta in the filling and use phyllo or puff pastry which obviously makes it quicker to assemble. You can section it into squares and serve it as an appetizer or bring it as a satisfying office lunch. Leftovers are quite decent at room temperature the next day or reheated under the grill.
My friend Rosa, a wonderful Perugina who lives in Oregon, has introduced me to the marvels of hot-water pastry and I have discovered that, with minimal modifications, her marvelous recipe works very well with my gluten-free flour mix. Ok, definitely not as pretty, but GF and pretty don’t often go hand in hand.
- 240 gr (8.5 oz) gluten-free flour mix (or pastry wheat flour)
- 100 gr (7 tablespoon) butter
- 100 ml (7 tablespoon) warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husks
- 2 tablespoon grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- 500 gr 1 lb fresh spinach or 250 gr (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 250 gr (1/2 lb) ricotta
- 175 gr (6 oz) cottage cheese
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoon grated parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
To make the filling:
Whisk the eggs and mix with ricotta, cottage cheese and salt. Blanch spinach for 3 minutes or until soft but still bright green. Rinse under cold water, squeeze out the excess water and chop. Add the spinach to the rest of the filling ingredients.
To make the pastry:
Place the flour and psyllium in a bowl or food processor container.
Place the butter, salt and water in a pan and melt over a gentle heat, no need to boil. Remove from the heat and immediately stir the warm liquid in the flour. Beat well, until the mixture forms a ball in the bowl. This is very easy if you have a food processor. Transfer the ball of dough on a floured work-top and let it rest until completely cooled.
Roll 4/5 of the dough into a 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thin disk and transfer into a 10 inch ( 25 cm) tart pan lined with parchment paper so to make a case with shallow sides. You can also roll the pastry on the parchment paper and then transfer both paper and pastry in the tart pan. Remove any excess pastry around the sides and reserve for the lattice.
To assemble and bake the pie:
Preheat the oven to 210 °C (410 °F).
Spread the spinach and cheese mixture in the pastry case. Roll the leftover pastry into several strips and arrange them in an attractive shape over the pie. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until looking golden and deliciously crunchy. Serve immediately.
NB. Even though I am fond of spices and herbs, please consider that most herbs would clash with the intense flavor of spinach. If you must, add a pinch of crushed fennel seeds to the crust ingredients or a little chili pepper, that’s it!