CHEESE CRUSTED SPINACH PIE: Easy-Cheezy!

Cheese Crusted Spinach Pie is a tasty quiche-like pie that incorporates cheese into the crust rather than the filling. It’s quick and easy to put together (unless you’re like me and insist on washing EVERY spinach leaf thoroughly), but do allow an hour from the time it goes into the oven to when it can be served.

CHEESE CRUSTED SPINACH PIE

Crust

  • 173 g (1.5 cups; 6 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 97 g (3/4 cup; 3.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 99 g (7 T; 3.5 oz) butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 cup milk (I use 1% or 2%)
  • 14 g (1 T; 1/2 oz) butter
  • 66 g (1/2 cup; 2.25 oz) onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 227 g (8 oz) fresh spinach, stems discarded, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius).

In a mixing bowl, combine cheese, flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and dry mustard.

Using a fork, mix in the 99 g melted butter – dough will be clumpy. Pour into a 9″ pie plate, spreading evenly.

Using your fingers, press dough firmly into the bottom and sides, pushing tightly into the corners (this will allow more surface area for the filling).

Into a large pot (when you add the spinach, you’ll understand why you need a large pot), add the milk, 14 g butter, onion, nutmeg, and 1 tsp salt. Bring mixture to a simmer. Turn off heat but leave pot on burner to keep the liquid warm as the spinach wilts.

Add in spinach, occasionally stirring until spinach wilts.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed cookie sheet to catch any spills. Mix beaten eggs into the spinach mixture, then pour into the crust to just below the brim. Arrange cherry tomatoes around top, cut side up.

CAREFULLY place in preheated oven – trying your best not to spill. (You can also place the unfilled crust on a cookie in the oven and then pour in the filling, if you prefer.)

Bake pie at 400° F (200° C) for 20 minutes – SET TIMER! Then decrease oven temperature to 350° F (175° C) and continue cooking pie until filling is set – about 15-20 minutes. (This is is bold to remind you!) Remove from oven and let gel for, at least, 15 minutes before serving.

SPINACH PIE – Popeye Approved!

SPINACH PIE

SPINACH PIE

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.

SPINACH PIE

Crust:

  • ¾ cup water, approximately 100º Fahrenheit
  • 2¼ tsp dry yeast
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt

Filling:

  • 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.

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.