Savoring the Seasons: Crustless spinach pie and sisterly love

  • Contributed photo Martha McClintock, Mary’s twin

  • Metro Creative Graphics Spinach

  • Contributed photo Mary McClintock

For The Recorder
Published: 6/28/2016 1:58:54 PM

If you read this column regularly, you’ve seen recipes from and stories about my sister Martha, who lives in Melbourne, Australia.

But, have I told you she’s my twin? Indeed, there is someone who looks remarkably like me on the other side of the planet. Included are photos of each of us taken last week.

Martha has been experimenting with a recipe and wanted me to share it with you. Here’s what she has to say.

“This all started because I love spanokopita, but my stomach doesn’t like garlic these days, and all the great spanokopita in Melbourne, home to the world’s largest expatriate Greek population, is loaded with garlic.

“So, I started with this recipe: http://ab.co/29kVPt1, but hate the fussing around with the crust.

“And, since I normally make big batches of stuff and freeze in portions in our big freezer, making it crustless made it much less a hassle to just heat in microwave, without needing an oven time period to crisp the crust. This is what it became (see recipe below).

“Remember mom’s “Stouffer’s spinach souffle” that she loved? Basically, that is what the filling is like. I tried filo pastry and puff pastry and frozen pastry, but I had too much filling for the size of pastry shell I bought.

“So, I just put some filling into a little casserole dish and put it on the tray next to the big pastry shell log of pie. It is fabulous as just the souffle without the crust.

“Frank inhaled it. I inhaled it. Jane likes it. It freezes well and reheats much better without the crust to complicate reheating. And, it goes well with a piece of good buttered toast or such. Frank ended up using a bit as a toast topping.”

This week we’re eating…

Spinach Ricotta Egg Leek Crustless Pie

By Martha McClintock, Melbourne, Australia (modified from Sophie Zalokar’s “Easter Ricotta, Spinach, Egg, and Dill Pie” posted on abc.net.au website)

1 leek or onion, finely chopped

3 T. olive oil or half and half butter/olive oil

1.5 tsp. salt

750 grams (1.5 pounds) chopped cooked spinach (thawed if frozen)

500 grams (1 pound) fresh ricotta, drained for 10 minutes (I forgot to drain)

3 large eggs

1/2 C. Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

salt/pepper to taste

a pinch of fresh dill or basil or other herb (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Saute leek or onion in oil/butter with a bit of salt until translucent and golden. Squeeze as much liquid out of spinach as possible and place in large bowl. Add ricotta, cooked leek/onion, salt, eggs, Pecorino, nutmeg, salt/pepper to taste.

Mix until well combined. Spoon mixture into either small baking dishes, or 8-by-12-inch baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with salad or toast — makes great toast spread. Cut into individual servings to freeze. Reheats well in microwave or oven.

Martha’s Notes: I make my pie in stages. Basically, I get tons of spinach at market, boil it down, freeze it into cantaloupe-sized amounts.

I find 300 grams (10 oz.) of cooked spinach to the results of a homemade ricotta recipe

( http://nyti.ms/291cG3h), which weigh around 200 grams (7 oz.) when drained.

I just pull the cantaloupe-sized ball of spinach out of the freezer in morning, and once the ricotta is made and draining, start the process of the leeks and squeeze more water out of spinach, and chop it up.

Then, mix the spinach in with the leeks, to cool them down and get the “green solids” amalgamated, while you whisk eggs, grated pecorino, nutmeg and ricotta.

Then, mix egg and ricotta mixture with the cooled down green solids mixture and bake with foil on top.

Next time, I am going to do a 2-liter batch and make a double-sized spinach pie so some actually makes it to the freezer. I recommend making your own ricotta, an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Local food advocate and community organizers Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, brand promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals and writer-editor for More Than Sound. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmclinto@yahoo.com


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