For once it looks like the groundhog was right, winter is over. Last week’s tease of highs in the 80’s has now settled back into a mostly rainy week with temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. Spring arrives this weekend and it’s time to head back to the garden. Our garden’s first offering is spinach. Planted as a fall crop, it wintered over nicely in the greenhouse . It’s not the delicate baby spinach that you would want in a salad, but larger, very crinkly spinach, perfect for cooked dishes. I will attest that is still sweet and flavorful, after nibbling on some stems when I picked a large colander full today.
I found this recipe for Spinach Pie on the Epicurious website from a book called Irish Country Cooking, quite appropriate since St. Patrick’s Day is today. My choice was further confirmed when I read the author’s comment that three generations of her family have enjoyed this dish and this recipe was often made to use up her father’s seasonal harvest of spinach.
It takes a lot of spinach to make a pound, twelve cups to be exact. When that spinach is cooked down it will yield about a cup. Wash spinach in a large sink in several exchanges of cold water, those crinkles can hide a lot of dirt and debris. Remove any large stems and trim away any discolored leaves. The recipe called for steaming the spinach, I chose to cook it down in batches in a non stick skillet, which was just as easy. Drain spinach in a colander or better yet squeeze in your hands to remove excess moisture. Roughly chop spinach and in a large bowl combine with onion, beaten eggs and the cheeses. Mix well to be certain the spinach is mixed thoroughly with the other ingredients. Transfer this mixture to a quiche dish or individual dishes. If you like it could even be made in a crust. Different cheeses could be substituted as long as they have the same texture, cheddar for the mozzarella, I substituted ricotta for the cottage cheese. The addition of some chopped smoked salmon or a little crumbled sausage would be nice too. A 10 ounce container of frozen spinach, thawed and well drained can be substituted for the fresh spinach.
Spinach pie is appropriate at any meal, breakfast, a light luncheon entree, a side at dinner. You could also bake this in a rectangular baking dish and cut it into small squares as an hors d’oeuvre. I barely made a dent into the spinach that’s in the greenhouse so it looks like I will be making this again in the weeks to come.
- 1 lb 4 oz spinach, washed or a 10 ounce container of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained of excess liquid
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 10 oz ricotta or cottage cheese (regular or low fat)
- 10 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ t freshly ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350°F, 325°F if using convection heat
- Wilt the spinach in a large non stick saute pan with the water that is still clinging to the leaves, drain well and roughly chop.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked spinach with the onion, beaten eggs and cheeses. Be sure that the spinach is thoroughly combined with the other ingredients. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Transfer mixture to one or several smaller baking dishes that have been coated with non stick spray. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.