Silverbeet, spinach, chard… whatever you want to call it… it takes up a lot of space until you cook it.
At the risk of boring you with another of my childhood food stories, my mother (love you, Mum!) used to boil the crap out of it in very salty water, then put a mug of “spinach water” on the table at dinner, from which we all had to drink some. Looking back, I’m like “What the? Why didn’t you just blanch it and we could eat the nutrients instead of drinking the salty-as water they leached into?” Hey, we do what we know, right?
Which is why I didn’t eat silverbeet for many years after I left home. Then I discovered it only needs the teeensiest bit of cooking and it tastes superb! Especially without the gobs of salt (really love you, Mum!). So now I’ll eat it any old how, but in pies is my favourite. You can even eat it raw. You might be surprised what vegetables you can eat raw. Almost anything leafy, also corn, asparagus for example… even Brussels sprouts, so be warned.
I’ve tried a few different spinach pie incarnations, but this one is my favourite so far. Because easy. I’ve never quite got the pastry to puff up how I’d like, but it still tastes great.
Use whatever cheeses you like. I was going to add in some blue, but I’m saving it for Christmas. Some people like ricotta (not a real cheese)… I’m not such a fan. Just use your favourites.
Lazy spinach piePrint This
- 1 bunch spinach/silverbeet/chard, roughly chopped
- a generous blob of butter (don't hold back)
- 1 leek sliced (soft white part)
- 1 garlic clove (or more, if you like), minced or finely grated
- 3 or 4 medium sized mushrooms, chopped (don't use the little ones, they have no flavour)
- 1-1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese, or cheddar, or cottage cheese (pretty much whatever cheese you like)
- 1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino (Tilba Dairy make a good one), finely grated
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, finely ground (grind your own, tastes so much better)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (retain a small amount to brush onto the top of the pie)
- 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
- dusting of flour for benchtop
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
- Boil the kettle.
- Put the spinach in a large pot or bowl. After the kettle boils, pour the hot water over the spinach. Give it a bit of a swoosh around until the leaves are wilted and take on a rich colour. This should only take a couple of minutes, max. Strain the spinach and rinse in cold water. Let it drain.
- Gently heat your favourite frying pan.
- Once it’s at temperature, throw in the butter. It should quietly sizzle and not smoke or go brown. If it does, turn it down, clean the pan and start again! Don’t burn the butter!
- Gently cook the leek and garlic for a few minutes until the leek goes soft. Don’t burn the garlic! Turn the heat down if it starts to brown. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for at least another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should all be nicely soft and cooked down.
- While the leek mixture is cooking, put the cheeses, nutmeg, salt, pepper and most of the beaten eggs in a bowl. Give that a mix.
- Add the drained spinach. You need to get as much water out of it as possible. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to do this. Really give it a good squeeze. It’s ok, it’s going in a pie.
- Then add the leek mixture and give it all a good stir to combine. Maybe let it cool a bit first, while you sort out the pastry.
- Dust the flour over a clean benchtop. Give the pastry sheet a bit of a roll, just to stretch it out a bit. I use a 23cm pie dish and the pastry sheet is about 25cm. I could probably use the pastry sheet without rolling it, but I do it anyway, just to give me that bit extra to work with.
- Place the pastry sheet over the pie dish. Don’t worry too much about shaping it into the dish and DO NOT trim the edges.
- Tip the spinach mixture into the pie dish. Then – here’s the good bit – fold the corners of the pastry into the middle to form the top of the pie. Oh my lordy, it’s so easy, you won’t believe it. Don’t worry if the corners don’t meet exactly or if there’s a gap.
- Brush the top with the remaining beaten egg.
- Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Let it cool on the bench for 5 minutes to set, then serve with a salad of whatever you’ve got.