spinach and ricotta pie with a cheese crust

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's greens pie from her book Ostro has been one of the most baked items during COVID-19 lockdown. It's not too dissimilar from Skye McAlpine's recipe for spinach mint and ricotta pie so I decided to combine the 2 to make this spinach and ricotta pie with a cheese crust.

We're teetering on the brink of increased restrictions here in NSW and with it, panic buying has returned. Toilet paper and pasta are hard to find and when I went looking for frozen spinach with which to make this pie, I tried 2 supermarkets and both had sold out yet there was a glut of fresh spinach at the fruit shop. 

Instead I bought a bunch of spinach for the pie which I trimmed, washed, cooked, drained then squeezed the water out, chopped it and then remembered why I usually use frozen spinach. What a pfaff!

Here's the recipe for you adapted from A Table in Venice by Skye McAlpine and Greens Pie by Julia Busuttil Nishimura. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC. 

Spinach and ricotta pie with cheese crust – makes a 17cm pie 
Serves 4
250g plain flour
50g grated parmesan cheese
A generous pinch salt
125g cold unsalted butter, diced
⅓ cup cold water

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 leeks, white and light green parts only, neatly sliced and washed
1 garlic clove, sliced
250 frozen spinach, defrosted or 1 bunch spinach washed and wilted as above
175g ricotta cheese, well drained
20g parmesan, grated
2 eggs
Pinch nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the pastry, combine the flour, cheese and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 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 200°C. Grease a 17cm spring-form tin. Cut off ⅓ of the dough and roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface to fit the base of the spring-form 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.  

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the leek, garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Set aside in a large bowl. Defrost the frozen spinach in the microwave, squeezing out the excess water from the spinach before transferring to the bowl. Add the ricotta, the parmesan, 1 whole egg and half a beaten egg and the nutmeg then season and mix well. Don’t discard the egg as the remainder will be used to glaze the top of the pie. 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 spring-form 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 pastry 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 dark 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.

Parmesan cheese is one of my favourite things and it adds a little extra flavour to the pastry, which was already delicious and adding a leek to the mixture added a little extra flavour to the filling. It was definitely worth making.

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

Bye for now,


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