Celebratory approach to food preparation notwithstanding, it’s fair to say that most of the cooking I’ve done in recent years has been by necessity, not for pleasure. But that’s not to say I don’t have a signature dish or two up my sleeve when I need them.
One absolute family favourite is my cheese and spinach pie, a yummy combination of ricotta, spinach, onions and garlic, all encased in a health-conscious filo pasty case (when I was a good Mum) or a flakey, buttery puff pastry case (when I was a tired, time-poor, Mum).
My kids Jess and Carly absolutely loved this dish and as they got older and I was running them around all over the place for sport and other after-school activities they pie evolved into convenient, portable, cheese and spinach rolls.
Spinach and cheese pie recipe
- 2 x 250g packets of frozen spinach, thawed, and squeezed to drain excess liquid.
- 400g ricotta (or 200g fetta and 200g ricotta).
- 1 onion, finely diced.
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill, fresh or dry.
- 1 egg, whisked.
- 8 sheets of filo pastry (or 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, freshly thawed).
- 50g butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté your onion and garlic over low heat for 10 minutes, or until it is translucent and slightly golden. Allow to cool.
- Squeeze thawed, frozen spinach with your hands or in a clean jay cloth to remove as much of the excess liquid as you can.
- Place spinach, cheese, cooled onion and garlic mixture, whisked egg, lemon zest and dill, in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Lay 4 sheets of filo pastry on top of one another in your pie dish, brushing each sheet with butter or yoghurt before laying the next sheet down.
- Spread pastry with your spinach and cheese mixture.
- Top pie with remaining 4 sheets of the layered filo pastry, tucking the pastry down the sides of the dish.
- Brush the top of your pie with remaining butter or milk to glaze.
- Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the pie top has a lovely golden brown colour.
- Slice and serve with a rocket and tomato salad.
Top tips: Cut the fat content in this recipe by brushing yoghurt instead of butter between the filo leaves to glue them together. And if you don’t have egg or milk to glaze the top of the pie, brushing it with water achieves the same effect.
I love this recipe because I can prep the filling to use later in the day, and this recipe makes the whole house smell amazing as it’s cooking so it’s a guaranteed winner for family dinners in my household.