Italian spinach and ricotta pie
This recipe for Italian spinach and ricotta pie is quick, easy and makes for a delicious meat-free meal. I used a rectangular oven dish as I didn't have a round pie dish to hand, but I would advise you to use the latter if possible (this will make it easier to assemble the pie). You could try adding sundried tomatoes to the spinach and ricotta mixture to add more flavour to the pie.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 shallots sliced
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 25 g 1oz raisins
- 25 g 1oz pine nuts
- 300 g 11oz baby spinach, washed and dried
- 500 g 1lb 2oz ricotta
- 2 eggs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of chilli powder
- 100 g 3½oz butter
- 6 sheets filo approx 58 x 25.5cm 23 x 10in
Preparing the filling
Warm the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the shallots until slightly softened.
Add the garlic, raisins and pine nuts and sauté for a further 1–2 minutes.
Add the spinach to the pan, cover, reduce the heat and cook for 3–5 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
Whisk the eggs, then season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a generous pinch of chilli, before mixing into the ricotta.
Add the spinach to the ricotta mixture, stir well and set aside.
Clarifying the butter
Cut the butter into small cubes and heat in a small saucepan over a low heat, until it has melted and the butter fat has separated from the milk solids. Allow to settle for a couple of minutes, then gently pour the butterfat into a bowl and discard the milk solids.
Assembling the pie
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Half the filo sheets and place in a stack. Brush the top sheet with butter and place it butter side down in the pie dish so that it just hangs over the edges.
Repeat until you have 6 sheets of filo in the dish. Place each sheet slightly off centre around the pie dish, so the pastry overhangs a little.
Spoon the spinach and ricotta mixture onto the filo sheets.
Brush another piece of filo pastry with butter and scrunch up slightly before placing on top of the filling, butter side up.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of filo until you have covered the top of the pie.
Carefully take the edges of the filo pastry up and over the pastry to finish, enclosing the filling. Brush the top of the pie with butter. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 40–45 minutes until golden.
Ensure the spinach you add to the pan is dry, or it will produce too much moisture when cooked. If you need to wash it first, shake well afterwards and place in a clean tea towel or kitchen towel to absorb the remaining moisture.
Clarifying the butter involves heating it very slowly so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan; the butter fat is then poured off the top and the milk solids are discarded. If you leave out this step, the patches of milk solids throughout the butter will burn when the dish is cooked and give a speckled appearance.