Monday, January 11, 2010

Spinach Pie with Double Pale Ale Crust (vegetarian)

Oh, the holidays – how I both love and hate them. Eleven days off work were spent pigging out on home-made mac-n-cheese and Ghirardelli peppermint bark. After that, I knew I needed to get back on the wagon and prepare something healthy that I could eat from during my first (long) week back at work.

It’s been freakishly cold here in Baltimore this winter, so I was in the mood for something dense and hearty to eat for dinner – kinda like quiche, hot and filling, but less eggy. Tonight I finished the second to last piece of what I came up with: spinach pie.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 10-oz bags fresh spinach
2 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Crushed Garlic (in a jar)
1 small yellow (cooking) onion
½ cup vegetable broth
½ cup sour cream
1 16-oz container low-fat ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste

3 to 3 ½ cups all-purpose wheat flour
1 stick butter, melted (or ¼ cup ghee)
¼ bottle Flying Dog Double Dog beer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the beer crust, add melted butter to flour. Slowly add enough beer to make dough that’s firm and somewhat dry. Roll the dough and place in a pie plate. Set aside.

To make the filling, add 2 tbsp EVOO to a wok or other large frying pan and turn heat to medium (I’m a sloppy bitch, so using a wok makes cleanup easier for me). Add chopped onion and garlic paste, sautéing until onion just turns clear and being careful not to burn garlic. Add several tablespoons veggie stock and cover with several handfuls of spinach. Using tongs, toss, turning over wilted spinach and adding more fresh spinach and enough veggie stock to create steam (which wilts the spinach) until both bags of spinach have been wilted and mixed will with the onions and garlic. Turn off heat and place spinach in a strainer, getting rid of the excess liquid (don’t smoosh the spinach – just allow the liquid to drain naturally).

Return spinach to the wok and add a pinch of salt and pepper, each. Fold in sour cream and ricotta cheese. Next, beat eggs and add to spinach mixture. Mix that thoroughly and place in pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, checking center of pie at 45 minutes and every 5 minutes after until a toothpick comes out clear.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Even without adding much veggie stock, wilted spinach can get watery, which is disastrous for a pie like this. I actually forgot to drain my spinach before adding the sour cream and cheese, so I added two handfuls of breadcrumbs to soak up some of the moisture while the pie cooked. I could have also added another egg in an attempt to hold the mixture together, but like I said earlier, I wasn’t looking to make spinach quiche – I was looking to make spinach pie.

I got the idea for this crust from my friend, John, who had me make something similar (with ghee) to be used as the dough for samosas we were preparing for his annual Indian dinner feast. Ghee is used in Indian cooking – it’s simply liquefied clarified butter. The hoppy flavor of the pale ale John had me add to the dough really brought out the flavor of the vegetables in the samosas, which gave me the idea to use it in this pie. Since my fridge is always stocked with Flying Dog, I grabbed one of their hoppiest brews: Double Dog – a double-the-hops dark pale ale. Flying Dog Ales is a mid-size brewery about 2 hours outside Baltimore. Not only are their beers amazingly flavorful and plastered in very cool Ralph Steadman art, but they’re also the exclusive beer sponsor of my roller derby league (for which I manage sponsorship). And since this pie was made with Flying Dog beer, I guess you could say this pie was made with the Gonzo spirit!

This pie should keep in the fridge, covered, for one week. Pies like this tend to absorb the flavors of other items in your fridge more than some other foods might, so be sure the pie is as airtight as possible to retain the integrity of the flavors.

Not only is spinach the third richest source for beta carotene, but it also contains many of the B vitamins that keep us ladies sane during PMS time, vitamin E, and vitamin K. And as if that isn’t enough of a reason to eat the green leafy stuff, maybe you’ll take a hint from a hot sailor: “I’m strong to the finish when I eats me spinach – I Popeye the sailor man!”


  1. I think I will be making this over the weekend!

  2. It would also be really great with some quartered artichokes thrown in it - like 2 cans (drained). I'm making myself hungry now - d'oh!