spinach, ricotta and mint pie

A good friend of mine gave me a copy of Skye McAlpine's book, A Table in Venice for Christmas. It's no secret that I love Italian food and I follow Skye on instagram, so I browsed the pages with interest.

This is the first recipe I've made from the book and it was a bit of a given that I should choose this spinach, ricotta and mint pie. Spinach and ricotta is one of my favourite flavour combinations so I buy ricotta from my local fruit shop every few weeks; there is always frozen spinach in my freezer and I have a pot of mint growing on the window ledge. 

I made the pastry early on Sunday morning and did a few book-folds with the top crust to make sure it was extra flaky.

In Skye's recipe she pre-bakes the whole pastry case whilst I just pre-baked the base. I've done this many times before and it does seem to be enough to prevent the dreaded 'soggy bottom' from occurring.

As well as changing the technique a little I've adjusted the filling recipe a little to fit my 17cm tin and my indecent love for ricotta. If you double everything it will make a 23 cm pie. Skye's recipe suggested a 30 minute baking time but my pie was looking fairly pale and uninteresting at 30 minutes, so I baked it for an hour.

I had a slice of pie for my Sunday lunch. The pastry was satisfyingly short and the filling was delicious. Next time I'll add a little cooked chorizo to the mix to mirror a favourite Marcella Hazan pasta sauce.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Spinach ricotta and mint pie – from A Table in Venice by Skye McAlpine

Makes a 17cm pie, which serves 4

250g plain flour
125g cold butter, diced
A generous pinch salt
⅓ cup cold water

250 frozen spinach, defrosted
2 tsp olive oil
175g ricotta cheese, well draned
20g parmesan, grated
2 eggs
½ bunch mint, leaves finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the salt then add enough cold water to make dough, bringing it together with your hands until smooth or you could do this step in the food processor. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes or overnight.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease a 17cm springform tin. Cut off ⅓ of the dough and roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface to fit the base of the springform tin. Using a rolling pin drape the pastry over the base cutting it to fit. Cover the pastry with a piece of baking paper, before attaching the ring. This should hold the baking paper in place avoiding the need for baking beads. Chill for 15-20 minutes then bake the base for 20 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden. Remove the tin from the oven, unclip the ring and remove the baking paper and set aside to cool while you make the filling.  

Defrost the frozen spinach in the microwave, squeezing out the excess water from the spinach before transferring to a bowl and drizzling with the olive oil. Add the ricotta, the parmesan, 1 whole egg and half a beaten egg, season and mix well. Don’t discard the egg as the remainder will be used to glaze the top of the pie. Stir in the mint then return the mixture to the fridge while you finish lining the tin.

Divide the remaining pastry in half and roll out one half thinly on a lightly floured surface. Use this half to line the sides of the tin leaving a little overhang. Once you’ve lined the sides of the tin return the case to the fridge to firm a little before spooning in the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry so it’s large enough to cover the tin. My springform tin is quite high so I folded the edges of the pastry over the filling and glazed the edge of the pastry before laying the remaining pasty over the top of the pie to form a lid. Trim off any excess pastry and use your fingers to seal the edges together. Use a sharp knife to slash 4 slits at the centre of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Brush the leftover beaten egg all over the top of the pie.

Bake the pie  for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the pastry is golden and the filling heated through (slide a knife into one of the slashes down to the base of the pie; it should come out feeling warm to the touch). Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Turn out of the tin and serve warm or at room temperature.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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