May 10th, 2010
Cheese & Spinach Pie
“Each Time The Wind Blows
I Hear Your Voice So
I Call Your Name . . .
Whispers At Morning
Our Love Is Dawning
Heaven’s Glad You Came . . .
You Know How I Feel
This Thing Can’t Go Wrong
I’m So Proud To Say
I Love You
Your Love’s Got Me High
I Long To Get By
This Time Is Forever
Love Is The Answer…
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You..”
With the tape recorder playing this ballad sung by Micheal Jackson in the background in my room, an enthralling book in hand, I used to hear this song as a 12 year old ready to step into my teens. Then I heard it again at 17, full of dreams and looking forward to what life had to offer. The same song played in the background too when I went out for a drive with my then friend and now husband, my soul mate Ro! Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. With a one year old baby in my arms sitting in the front seat next to Ro, we heard this track again on one of those long yet sweet drives. I was surprised that this song stirred the same emotions in me now as it did when I was a 12 year old. After all these are what classics are made of and only great artists like Michael Jackson can create timeless pieces of music this way, music that doesnt wither away with transient time!
This Cheese and Spinach Pie is also a true classic in its own right. It can be had in any season and dare I say at any time of the day! I made it in one of the Emile Henry Pie plates that Ro picked up for me from Williams Sonoma, as part of an elaborate menu for a candle lit dinner at home, replete with a well laid table just the way he likes it and fresh flowers, just the way I like it, on his birthday. Just a small gesture from me to make my man feel special on his day. When he savoured every bite of the pie, it was a satiating experience for me.
Few things in life, in my humble opinion that is, can be better than a slice of home made pie. And there is nothing not to love in this pie. Made with few ingredients, an Olive Oil crust, sans butter but rich in flavour, a filling with Cheese, Spinach, Herbs and Olives. And you could use a variety of cheese here. Think Ricotta, Cottage Cheese or Goat Cheese or even good old Panir, freshly made Indian cheese without compromising on the flavour or taste of the dish.
Watch how to make this pie here-
Cheese and Spinach Pie Recipe
You could use any cheese here like ricotta, cottage cheese, panir cheese or goat cheese. Kalamata olives can be substituted with any other olive.
For the Pie Crust*
- 100 gm (3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
- 100 gm (3/4 cup) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used 1/2 tsp of oregano and 1/2 tsp of basil)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil (or the oil of your choosing, provided it withstands cooking)
- 100 ml ( scant 1/2 cup) cold water
For the Filling*
- 500 gm ricotta or cottage or panir cheese*
- 200 ml fresh cream
- 2 tbsp cornflour or cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried herbs (I used Oregano and Basil)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch Spinach, blanched and well drained
- Kalamata or any other black Olives of your choice for putting over the pie
- Quick cooking rolled oats for sprinkling over the pie crust
For the crust:
- Lightly grease a tart pan or a pie dish with olive oil.
- In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and herbs. Pour in the oil and mix until you get coarse crumbs. Add in the water, then knead lightly with your hand until the dough comes together into a ball.
- On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a circle big enough to fit into your pie mould or tart pan. Remember to keep the surface dry by sprinkling a little flour on the rolling pin and smear a little over the pie dough too, Keep rotating the dough each time you roll it and add a little flour above and beneath the dough when it is on the verge of sticking to the surface. This will ensure a nice round circle.
- Carefully transfer the dough into the prepared pan, trimming the edges if necessary. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.
- Prick with a fork all over and blind bake the crust at 200°C (400°F) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
For the filling:
- In a blender or food processor combine the filling ingredients, the cheese, cream, cornflour, salt and herbs and process until smooth and creamy.
- Mix in the thoroughly drained and chopped spinach.
Assembling the Pie:
- Preheat the oven at 200C(400F)
- Sprinkle some rolled oats over the pie crust. This will help to absorb moisture from the filling. Spoon the pie filling over the pie crust. Decoratively arrange the Olives over the pie and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until just set or lightly browned at the top.
- Pie crust recipe adapted from here.
*If using ricotta or cottage cheese, make sure you completely drain the water off, by leaving it over a strainer with a pot below to collect the liquid in the refrigerator.
Serves 6 to 8 depending on the portion sizes.