Savory Greek spiinach Pie

Savory Greek Spinach Pie

Entertaining

with inspired vegetarian fare.

Healthy, hearty, and delicious, a Greek spinach pie is a bright savory Mediterranean dish to serve for a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or a casual supper. Prepared ahead, it reheats beautifully, allowing you to seamlessly place a splendid meal on the table in mere minutes.

Using a favored potato crust, in lieu of the traditional buttery phylllo crust, eliminates the time and tedium involved in making the crust as well as doing away with the excess of fat that we are all so conscious of these days.

Feel free to experiment using alternative vegetable combinations for fillings such as artichokes, kale, collard greens, asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes, and not to be excluded; sausages, cured hams, or seafood for non-vegetarian alternatives.

Greek Spinach Pie: serves 6

Crust: Prepare ahead a 9 inch lightly buttered baking dish.       Preheat oven to 400F/200C

  • 1 ½ lbs/675g large baker potatoes, skin on
  • flaky salt for coating the potato skins
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crumbled

Rinse the potatoes and salt the wet skins generously. Place the potatoes on a baking tray and pierce each potato several times with a sharp knife, or fork, and place in the oven. Bake  for 45 to 60 minutes,or until soft. Squeezing the potato in the center is usually a good enough indicator of being done, or to be more precise, with an  internal temperature of 210F/115C . Remove from the oven and cool until easy enough to handle. Peel off the skins and discard. Place the peeled potatoes in a bowl. Add the salt, pepper, grated garlic, and rosemary, and mash until smooth.

Press a relatively thin layer of the mashed potatoes mixture into the bottom and onto the side of the baking dish and even off the top flush with the edge of the baking dish. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the surface is dry and lightly colored around the edges.

Remove from the oven and set aside on a rack to cool.

Custard:

  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • zest of 1 lemon, peeled into wide zest strips
  • 3 organic eggs
  • 2 organic egg yolks
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups goat milk feta, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon thyme  
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of cayenne

Place the milk in a sauce pan, add the salt and lemon zest and heat to almost to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool. Remove the lemon zest and discard.

Place the eggs and additional yolks in a bowl and whisk together. Add the cooled milk and whisk until combined. Then gently whisk in the Greek yogurt until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the grated feta, lemon thyme, grated nutmeg, and pinch of cayenne and whisk until well combined and set aside to use later.

Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 leeks, tender parts only, chopped (1 generous cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet red Italian pepper (or bell pepper), seeded, cut into thin strips and cut into thirds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 4 heaping cups chopped spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped 
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped leeks and sauté for 6-8 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook until softened, 1-2 minutes. Add the red peppers, and salt and sauté until softened, 5 minutes. Add the scallions and spinach leaves and cook until the spinach leaves have wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add the parsley and olives and season with pepper to taste. Fold all the ingredients together until evenly combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. 

Toppings:

  • 1 1/2  cups  roasted cherry tomatoes (posted in basics)
  • 1 cup grated Greek Kefaloraviera (hard Greek Cheese), Parmigiano, or grated Greek goat’s milk feta
  • sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olive halves  

Assembly and baking:

Using your hand, lightly fill the prepared crust evenly with the filling without compressing. Give the prepared custard a stir and evenly distribute it over the filling ingredients. Give the baking dish a couple of giggles to evenly distribute the custard. Place the roasted cheery tomatoes evenly over the surface of the pie and sprinkle the grated cheese over the entire surface. Dot the surface of the pie with sprigs of lemon thyme and top with halved olives.

Put the pie on a baking sheet and place in the oven and bake until the custard is just set. This will be around 30 to 40 minutes depending on the heat distribution in your oven. Check after baking 25 minutes, giving the pie a giggle to determine if the custard has set. If not, continue baking just until the filling is congealed, but not firm. Remove from the oven promptly and set the pie on a cooling rack. The custard will firm up slightly while cooling.

Serving:

Ideally the pie is at its best served still slightly warm from the oven. But, as mentioned, the pie also reheats nicely. Simply remove from the refrigerator and bring to near room temperature before popping it into a 300F/150C oven for 15 or so minutes.

 

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