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Spinach Pie

Tonight we had one of my husband’s oldest friends, MZ, over for a meal. Having company on a weeknight can be challenging, but we were dying to meet his new young girlfriend. (12 years his junior!) MZ is a vegetarian so I decided to make spinach pie.  I never imagined that my kid would try it, but I was pretty sure he’d enjoy helping out.

I decided to make a pie recipe out of the “Barefoot in Paris” cookbook by Ina Garten.  The cover says “Easy French Food You Can Make at Home.”  I was sold on this particular recipe because it says “Puff pastry is the essence of sophisticated French cooking, and it makes any filling elegant.  Fortunately, Pepperidge Farm makes an excellent one that you can find in the freezer at your grocery store.”  I love a good short cut!

Spinach in Puff Pastry (p. 66)

Prep Time: 15 mins  Cooking Time: 30 to 40 mins

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions [note - I only use one cup]
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
2 (10 oz) boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry defrosted
1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter in a saute pan and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  meanwhile, squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place in a bowl. Add the onion mixture, scallions, Gruyere, Parmesan, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pine nuts. Mix well.

Unfold one piece of puff pastry and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  [Important note: puff pasty gets very sticky if you wait until it is fully thawed to unfold it.  I recommend that you sprinkle some flour on the counter and unfold the pastry when it is still cold.  When thawed, flatten it with a rollin pin and transfer to the baking sheet as noted.]

Spread the spinach mixture in the middle of the pastry, leaving a 1 inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash. Roll out the second piece of puff pastry on a floured board until it is an inch larger in each direction. Place the second sheet of pastry over the spinach and seal the edges, crimping them with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash but don’t let it drip down the sides or the pastry won’t rise. Make three small slits in the pastry, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned.  Transfer to cutting board and serve hot.  Serves 6.

“Painting” with the egg wash was the crowning jewel of the evening – instantly changing the tone from “yuck spinach” to “I want to eat that!” And my kid actually ate SPINACH PIE for dinner. His favorite part was the pine nuts. By the end he was picking them out of his piece to eat first.

MZ, the soon-to-be reformed vegetarian (I learned he is considering breaking down and trying Umami Burger [1]), seemed to enjoy the meal. His new young girlfriend was a champ; eating the giant slice I gave her in its entirety. She also happens to be delightful.

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[1] Umami Burger: http://www.umamiburger.com/

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