Monday, January 27, 2014

spinach pie

After I found out that I have celiac disease, my ever-thoughtful Aunt Terri (or as we call her, Aunt T - remember her genius sheet-folding tutorial?!) sent me a package that included a monster bag of gluten free all-purpose flour, a box of gluten free chocolate chip cookies, and a new cookbook called "Gluten-Free on a Shoestring."  It's filled with all kinds of recipes and ways to save money on gluten free foods, mainly by making them yourself.  Buying products off the shelves can set you back a pretty penny when a tiny loaf of bread costs $5, a frozen pizza half the size of a regular frozen pizza costs $8-$9, and a box of cookies can run anywhere from $5-$7.  My wallet was feeling sad and empty every time I walked through the gluten free aisles at the store.

Since becoming totally gluten free almost six months ago now, I've tried several brands of foods that are commercially available, and my hands-down favorite for pretty much everything is Udi's.  But although it's nice to be able to pick something up in a pinch, I've really enjoyed making things from scratch in my own tiny little apartment kitchen.  Even though I don't have my fancy stand mixer or food processor, I do have a colorful new set of Giada De Laurentiis mixing bowls, a whisk, a few wooden spoons, and my own two hands.  

Last Thursday, I decided to try the Spinach Pie recipe from my new book.  Since I'd been feeling sorry for myself for not being able to eat the amazing Spinach Cheese Burritos from my Moosewood "Simple Suppers" book (they're made with flour tortillas and definitely would not be the same with corn or gluten free tortillas), I had really high hopes for this recipe.  It did not disappoint.  You could use a store-bought crust for this if you're not gluten free (and maybe even if you are - I thought I saw a ready-made gluten free crust awhile back?!), but it's a cinch to pull this Savory Olive Oil Crust together if you have a few extra minutes.  If you can eat regular flour, just substitute an equal amount of all-purpose flour and leave out the xanthan gum.

Savory Olive Oil Crust
Recipe from "Gluten-Free on a Shoestring" 
by Nicole Hunn

2 C all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp kosher salt
5 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 to 3/4 C cold water

Whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the olive oil and white wine vinegar and stir to combine.  Add 1/2 C of cold water and stir until well incorporated, and then knead the dough until it all comes together.  If it's too crumbly, add more water one TBSP at a time until it becomes smooth, making sure to mix after each addition. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Once the dough is chilled, place between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out until it's about 1/8 inch thick.  Dust both sides with flour and wrap in plastic wrap.  Store in fridge until ready to use.

Spinach Pie
Recipe from "Gluten-Free on a Shoestring"
by Nicole Hunn

1 recipe Savory Olive Oil Crust (above)
2 garlic cloves
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside; preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Separate the olive oil crust into two equal portions. Roll each piece into a circle about 10 inches in diameter.  Wrap both crusts in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes.

Crush garlic cloves with a knife, remove the skins, and place whole cloves into a skillet with olive oil and onion.  Saute until onions become translucent and then transfer to a large bowl, discarding the garlic cloves.  Place spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring out all the water.  Add the dry spinach to the onions and mix to combine.  Add the mozzarella, Parmesan, and feta to the spinach mixture and stir well to combine.   

Remove crusts from refrigerator.  Place one round of dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Spoon the spinach mixture onto the dough and spread it into an even layer leaving a one inch border all the way around.  Place the second round of dough on top of the spinach mixture and cinch the edges together.  Slice 3-4 vents in the top of the pie.  

It's definitely not pretty, but it sure is good.
 Bake for 30 minutes, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. 

Notes:  I didn't have a red onion so I just used a white one.  Since I don't have a rolling pin, I did my best to "roll" out the dough but couldn't get it thin enough.  So I just put the second crust right on top and left the sides open.  It turned out fine.  I used shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese instead of grated.

This pie is definitely best eaten right away so invite some friends over, pull this baby out of the oven, and gobble it up before it has a chance to cool.  Or, you could just eat a piece straight from the oven while standing at the counter in the kitchen, savoring the quiet of a napping big girl, and all that gooey gooey cheese.  If you want to save it all for yourself, you can definitely reheat it in the microwave or the oven the next day.  Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  If you love spinach, you'll definitely love this.  And even if you don't love spinach, surely you can get behind a recipe with no less than TEN ounces of cheese.  So good.  Hope you'll give this one a try.  

Have a great week!

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