Spinach is one of those really-good-for-you foods that I tend to put off making. Why? Because I hate cleaning it. If you’ve ever bought fresh spinach, you know what I mean – it’s very muddy. Even when the store does its best to sell clean bunches, I always find dirt in there. Consequently, I wash each leaf under running water, getting in every nook and cranny – after all, I don’t know what’s in that mud.
I admit it – I’m a wee bit overly cautious. (Okay – paranoid!)
I realize life would be easier if I used frozen, but I worry they didn’t clean their spinach very well. Running water over frozen spinach is almost pointless.
All that being said, whenever I do make a spinach dish, I’m glad I did. It’s delicious, healthy, and I always feel I’ve done a noble thing when finished. Then I chide myself for not cooking spinach more often.
My Spinach Pie is a lovely combination of spinach, raisins, and olives, topped with mozzarella, and encased in a hearty crust.
You may be fearless (or less paranoid) when it comes to spinach, but cringe at making a yeast dough. I’m here to tell you, yeast doughs are easy as…(wait for it)…pie. HONESTLY! They’re a piece of cake. (I’ll stop now.) So take a deep breath and I’ll walk you through this Spinach Pie recipe that everyone loves.
NOTE: I prefer to use canned black olives with jalapeños for added kick, but the plain ones are fine. You can also use kalamata olives, if you like.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: There are 3 olive oil amounts listed separately. The grand total is 5½ T, but I listed them in the amounts to be used for different purposes. The olive oil used to grease the rising bowl, casserole dish, and brush on the dough are not included in this total.
- ¾ cup water, approximately 100º Fahrenheit
- 2¼ tsp dry yeast
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1½ T olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 lb fresh spinach (stems are included in this weight)
- 1 T olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- ¼ cup onions, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 4-oz can black sliced olives (with or without jalapeños)
- ¾ cup raisins
- freshly ground pepper
- ½ lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 3 T olive oil
Stir yeast into water and let proof for about 5 minutes.
Put 2 cups flour, the 1½ T olive oil, and salt into your food processor. Turn it on and slowly pour the proofed yeast water through the pour spout. Let run until the flour is incorporated. The goal is for the dough to form a ball. Add more flour tablespoon by tablespoon until this happens. Then, run the machine about 45 seconds to knead the dough.
Note: If you don’t own a food processor, you’ll have to mix and knead the dough by hand. You can use the time it takes to knead the dough to think about how to save up for a food processor.
Press the dough ball into an olive oil greased bowl, then flip the dough so the entire ball is greased. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour.
While dough is rising, prepare the filling (which can also be done ahead of time). Remove and discard the spinach stems. Thoroughly wash spinach leaves, shake to remove excess water, then grab handfuls of leaves and slice. Don’t worry about the size or shape of the sliced leaves – once cooked, the leaves wilt.
In a large pot heat the 1 T olive oil. Sauté the onions, garlic, and cayenne pepper for 5 minutes. Add in the olives, raisins, ground pepper, and spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the liquid boils down a bit. (If you’ve never cooked fresh spinach before, you’ll be amazed by how much the spinach wilts – see photo.) There will still be some liquid – don’t worry about it.
Raw spinach wilts down to nothing.
Mix the mozzarella and 3 T olive oil together in a bowl.
Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.
When dough has risen, take two thirds of the dough and, on a well floured board, roll into a rectangle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of an 8″x 10″ casserole dish (or comparable size). Liberally grease the casserole dish with olive oil, then carefully place dough. Brush dough with more olive oil.
Tilt the pan containing the spinach, allowing the liquid to drain away. With a slotted spoon, remove the mixture and spread evenly on top of dough. Then sprinkle on cheese.
Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle large enough to cover top. Lay this piece in place, and roll the edges of the bottom and top dough together. The filling is now completely encased. You can brush the top with olive oil, water, milk, or an egg wash, if you like. Make 3 slits in the top dough.
Bake at 400º Fahrenheit for 35 minutes.