Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Pie!

I had been longing to make this savory pie since I saw the recipe here, but just didn't have the right occasion. And then spring came this year (judging by flowering trees, not the weather, because the weather here in NY has been less than seasonal!), and I had some friends over for a welcoming of true spring dinner, and I thought this pie would be just the thing to serve as a main course.

Traditionally, this is known as an Easter pie, or a Torta Pasqualina. Now, you know I'm not a native Easter celebrator (I'm Jewish), but I am a celebrator of seasons and of the overlap of Judeo-Christian holidays. I love that both Passover and Easter traditions celebrate the spring time. Both use eggs and greens ceremoniously, and I can't get enough of that - I love it for the symbolism, and for the culinary implications! This pie is so special, though, because you crack whole eggs into it before baking, and then when you slice and serve it, wedges will have cross sections of whole baked eggs in their pie! What a pleasant surprise!

This recipe uses an olive oil crust that you will find to be a pleasure to work with, especially for those of you who have become flustered with handling delicate butter pastry dough. I will definitely make this again - it was a huge success and I think all of my guests were excited to enjoy it with the meal.

Here's what you will need:
1 red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch spinach, washed well and chopped
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped, stems discarded
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c cottage cheese
3 T fresh marjoram
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs + 1 for egg wash

  • 4 c flour
  • 1 c olive oil
  • 1 T salt
  • 3/4 c ice water (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large pan, saute olive oil and onion. Add greens, salt, pepper and cook until greens are wilted, about 10 min. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, pick up bunches of greens mixture and wring out excess liquid. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine cheeses, herbs, 1 whole egg, and then add greens.

To make dough, put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until soft crumbly dough forms. Dump crumbly dough onto plastic wrap, form into a ball or a disk, and then refrigerate for 15-20 min. The fridge is not absolutely necessary, but I think it makes it easier to work with the dough if it is a little cooler than room temperature, because the olive oil makes it really soft to begin with.

To assemble the spring pie, divide the crust in half. Roll out one disk to about 1/4" thick, and place it in pie dish so that the edges fall over the edges of the dish. Now pour the spinach-cheese mixture into the crust. Smooth the top of the cheesy filling, and then make 4 golf ball - sized indentations in the filling. Crack 1 whole egg into each indentation. Roll out rest of dough for top crust, place on top, and seal edges with bottom crust. (If you are fancy, you can make this part look nicer than I did.) With remaining egg, beat and then brush (or use your fingers) to spread egg wash on top of crust. This will help it brown beautifully. Bake for 1 hour, or until wonderfully golden brown.

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