Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Theo the Greek's Spinach Pie

I am pleased to say that there was a specific request that this recipe make it into the blog, which validates it, at least in my mind.  Sometimes when I cook, especially when it's just for me, I have trouble gauging how good or how interesting things are.  Last Saturday night though I hosted 16 Williams Womens' Crew alums at my parents' apartment, so I had a whole host of people to cook for.  I prepared a mix of new and tried-and-true recipes.  This particular recipe was new to me, and comes from Table Talk, a cookbook written by Martha's Vineyard cafe owner Carol McManus.  I heard about it when she was interviewed on a local NPR talk show, where she made particular mention of the much-requested veggie burger recipe.  So I took the book out for the veggie burger recipe alone, (which, at least a year later, I have yet to make).  I also copied down a handful of other yummy sounding recipes, including this one for Spinach Pie, which I had completely forgotten about until I was poking around my computer the other day, looking for something completely unrelated.  It turned out to be so popular that several friends requested that the recipe appear on the blog, so they could make it, to.

Theo the Greek's Spinach Pie is essentially a quiche but with more veg and less egg, so you can pretend that it's healthier.  It's super easy, comes together in minutes and then, if you happen to be making this for a party and desperately need to shower, you have a whole 40 minutes while it bakes to pull yourself together!  The only thing you have to remember is to give yourself enough time to let your frozen spinach thaw, since man, that stuff is like a brick!  I left my spinach in the fridge for 26 hours beforehand, assuming it would thaw in there, but it didn't.  So I put it in a colander on a cookie sheet while my oven was preheating to help it along.  A little unconventional, I know, but the microwave was otherwise engaged.  And once it's thawed, you need to squeeze the heck out of that spinach.  It holds a lot of water!  I justsqueezed it in my hands, but if I had had some cheesecloth, I think the best way is to put it in a piece of cheesecloth, twist the corners together to make a pouch, then just squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.  You do dry out the spinach a little more though when you saute it for a few minutes with the garlic and tomatoes.  I tweaked a few of the ingredient quantities so that they correspond to standard packages, instead of (what seemed to me to be) arbitrary quantities.  But it's essentially all the same, plus or minus a few ounces of spinach and tomatoes.

Update 1/24/12: I revisted this recipe and played with it a little more.  Further tweaks and ideas can be found here.

Theo The Greek's Spinach Pie (Adapted from Table Talk by Carol McManus)
Serves 8 or so

* 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
* 3 Tablespoons olive oil
* 10 oz. package of frozen spinach, thawed and with liquid squeezed out
* 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped into large pieces (or the equivalent in fresh tomatoes, about 2 cups)
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 4 large or jumbo eggs, lightly whisked together
* 9 oz. feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces
* Basic pie crust for single pie (you can definitely use frozen here!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a frying pan, sauté garlic in olive oil over low heat for 2 minutes--keep an eye on it though.  It should get golden, but not burnt, or else it will just taste bitter.  Add defrosted spinach drained of liquid.  Sauté for 3 more minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes, pepper, and nutmeg, and sauté 2 more minutes.  Set vegetables aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs.  Add cooled vegetables.  Fold in feta cheese, and pour into prepared pie crust.

4. Bake pie 35-40 minutes until firm in center.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.


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