Monday, February 08, 2010

Spinach Pie with Goat Cheese...

Do you shy away from certain ingredients because you think they are too much trouble to bother with? I used to be that way a few years ago with one... phyllo dough! I always seemed to stress out, thinking it would dry out, crumble or just be a pain to control when working with it. I got over that pretty quick once I gave it a few tries and realized it wasn't going to destroy the dish if a sheet here or there tore or if it didn't look perfectly layered.

It comes frozen and just like puff pastry, I much prefer to let it slowly thaw overnight in the refrigerator - I find the layers don't end up with any sticky or gummy spots as they did when I tried the quicker method of leaving them on the counter. In fact, I slipped a package of phyllo dough in the fridge last night to make this Spinach Pie with Goat Cheese, Raisins, and Pine Nuts for dinner.

The pastry needs to be covered while you work with it to prevent it from drying out - the first time I did this, I used a damp kitchen towel. This kind of worked, but the sheets started to absorb the moisture and it wasn't pretty. Since then, I like to cover them with a sheet of saran wrap first, then lay down a damp towel - this way I can take my time with the pastry, yet it stays dry without turning to dust as the air is kept out.

Jeff was taken aback when he saw the ginormous mountain of spinach I bought for the filling - just short of 3 pounds, which could be several smaller bags at the market. Thankfully we made a run to Costco over the weekend and picked up enough there in one shot. I read through the recipe when I picked it out during menu planing, but apparently I missed one spot that had me do a double take before I started tonight - the spinach was to be added to a pot of softened onions (no surprise there), however I didn't see the part where it say to simmer the spinach for 40 minutes. Really? 40 minutes? That seemed like an awful long time for fresh spinach and I thought it would disintegrate into a gooey mess.

When I finally worked all the spinach into the pot though, I saw just how much liquid came out as the greens wilted. I thought about scooping it out and wringing the excess moisture away, but I decided to go with the recipe and let it simmer until most of the liquid was gone. I gave the spinach a quick taste just as the spinach wilted and then later when it was ready per the recipe and I have to say I liked how concentrated and robust it ended up! Before the spinach was completely done, I did toss in the raisins called for and let them plump up slightly instead of adding them at the end.

When the spinach had cooled down, we seasoned it well with crushed red pepper, fresh grated nutmeg, salt and fresh ground black pepper (don't be shy here!), along with tangy crumbles of goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. This mixture was layered between the sheets of phyllo dough and baked until the pastry was crisp and golden. To pull out cleaner slices, you'll want to let this one cool down at least fifteen minutes before slicing in - I did take a taste while it was hot out of the oven and did prefer it closer to room temperature.

I knew I would like the raisins in this, but I wasn't so sure Jeff would. At first he though the sweetness was a little weird, but he came around quickly and decided by the end he thought it was a good contrast to the savory nature of the full-bodied spinach. While we both did like this and think it was surprisingly comforting, I can't say it was remarkable enough that I'd run out and make it again anytime soon.


  1. oh Joe, this looks delicious! I have always been a fan of those hors d'oeurves that people serve that are phyllo dough and spinach-- this is like a big one of those. Can't wait to try this!!

  2. Your dish looks fabulous! I eat spinach alot these days, but I am still so amazed at how you need to start with so much to get a little plate of it when cooked!

  3. I made this dish a while back and came to the same conclusions. It was a lot of spinach, a bit on the putsy side and took a long time to cook down. Though, I did like having the leftovers all week.

    If I recall I also subbed half feta for the goat cheese - I ran short. Was still tasty.

    And, this may sound odd, but I found I liked honey drizzled over the top.

    As always, thanks for so many great reviews!

  4. Kel - Hope you get a chance to try it out!

    Lisa - Thanks!

    Kristin - Honey sounds like an interesting topping! I didn't even think to try that.