Sunday, 3 June 2012

Ham, Spinach and Ricotta pie with crunchy filo pastry

It was a lovely warm day, so something light but full on flavour was the order of the day. This pie was going to be it.. I had some great local ham (buy British outdoor reared pork, it’s the best in the world!) Loads of Ricotta and some Filo pastry, with a few other items form the fridge such as Spinach and a little Feta I was away.

The pie filling:

1 Onion
Bag of Spinach (250g)
In a large frying pan place the finely diced onion with a healthy glug of Olive oil. Cook the onions down gently until they are translucent and sweet. When cooked add the Spinach to the pan (that’s why you needed a big pan!!). Cook the Spinach down until its completely wilted (but still green, don’t cook it to death) turn off the heat and then allow to cool slightly.
In a mixing bowl you want to make the filling..
250g Ricotta
1 Egg
100g Feta Cheese
3 Slices of good Ham
Small handful of Fresh Thyme
Black Pepper
Simply mix the Ricotta and Egg together until thoroughly mixed, grate a healthy amount of Nutmeg into the mix and then season well with Pepper (no need for Salt, the Ham and Feta Cheese are salty enough).  Chop the Feta Cheese into cubes, cut the Fresh Thyme up, slice the Ham and add to the bowl.
Grated Parmesan
I can’t get enough of Parmesan right now, so I also grated a load of Parmesan in at this point.

Buy kitchen gadgets at the Great Dinner Recipes Store
Next, back to your Onion, Spinach mix. Spoon the Spinach and onions into a sieve and using the back of that spoon squeeze out the remaining water from the leaves. Plenty will come out, but this is fine. If you used whole giant leaves of Spinach run a knife through them (on the chopping board of course) and then add to the Ricotta and Ham mix. Mix thoroughly.
The pie:
You’ll need a cheesecake tin or something like that, brush it well with Olive Oil and then get your Filo pastry from the fridge, you’ll need 4 or 5 big sheets of Filo, plus a heaped Tbsp of Pine nuts – plus plenty more Olive Oil.
5 sheets of Filo Pastry
Tbsp Pine Nuts

Olive Oil (and Brush)
In your well oiled tin, gently place a sheet of Filo pastry, I have no doubt it will rip, but don’t worry seal the tear by pushing the pastry together, then brush the pastry with oil – leave the edges out of the dish. Place the second sheet on top of the first – in the opposite direction – and gently tuck into the corners of the dish. Brush with oil again. This time I wanted a crunchy layer between the layers of pastry..

Take the Tbsp of Pine Nuts and using a knife chop quite finely, this does not have to be perfect. Take 2/3’s of the Pine nuts and sprinkle around the base and edges – try and get some of the nuts to stick to the oiled edges. Next place another sheet of pastry of the first two, gently tuck it in leaving the edges exposed, oil and add the fourth and fifth layers. You should have a flower shaped arrangement of Filo pastry, with the edges flopping over the outside of the tin. Spoon your Ricotta, Ham and Spinach mix into the filo pastry lined tin and even out, making sure that you get the mix into the edges. Finally pull some of the layers of pastry over the top of the pie, sprinkle with the remaining chopped Pine nuts and then pull the remaining pastry edges in, giving it a final brushing of Olive Oil to finish. To add to the crunchiness that now is hidden in the layers of pastry I finished the pie with a fine layer of sea salt. Now place in the oven at 180 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown and… Crispy!

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