Spinach and fetta have been a constant throughout my entire life. You see, you could never go to a family function without coming across spanakopita, a spinach and fetta pie. And right next to it was the tiropita, a cheese pie.
I very quickly learnt which aunt’s spinach and cheese pie I would eat and which I wouldn’t. For something that seems to have a pretty standard recipe, they all tasted different.
One used too much spinach, one used not enough. One used the wrong cheese for my liking. One had something weird in it. One had a thick pastry that was truly horrible and one had a nice, thin, crispy pastry but was so-so in every other respect. I’ve eaten enough of these spinach and cheese pies to know whose I eat and whose I politely decline.
These pies also changed, over time, within my own immediate family. My mum started experimenting with different doughs and filling. Well more like shapes and cooking techniques… the dough is still a filo pastry dough that she continues to make from scratch.
My sister, who has always preferred the cheese pie, has also started recently making her own lighter and lemon thyme-infused version, for which she uses ready-made filo pastry sheets.
I on the other hand took the traditional filling, added eggs and cream and turned it into a quiche.
This is my submission for this month’s Cheese Please! recipe blog challenge as the cheese of the month for August 2013 is fetta. Fromage Homage’s blog is fantastic, and I love reading the cheese reviews every Friday – I’ll even excuse her for writing about cheeses I can’t get here…
Spinach, Fetta and Ricotta Quiche
Ingredients for the Shortcrust Pastry
Note: The below ingredients make enough dough for two pastry shells for two shallow, 20cm quiche tins. I you don’t want to halve the dough and freeze it for next time, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients a little at a time until you achieve the required consistency. If it becomes too sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
- 200g plain flour
- Large pinch of salt
- 100g unsalted butter (chilled, cut into small cubes)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of water
Ingredients for the Quiche Filling
- 500g English spinach, or baby spinach or silverbeet (washed and patted dry)
- 20g unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 200g fetta
- 200g ricotta
- 100ml thicken cream
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
Method for the Shortcrust Pastry
- Sift the flour and the salt together into a large bowl.
- Add the butter, and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg and the water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and butter mixture and pour in the combined egg and water.
- With a palette knife (or a butter knife), slowly work the mixture together until it forms a rough ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough gently, for no more than 20 seconds, until just smooth.
- Wrap the pastry dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes before using.
Blind Baking the Shortcrust Pastry
- Preheat the overn to 200°C
- Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed quiche of flan tin.
- Roll out the chilled shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and line the prepared tin.
- Prick the raw pastry all over with a fork.
- Cover the top of the pastry with crinkled then flattened out baking paper and top with baking beans or rice to weight the paper down and keep the dough from rising.
- Blind bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the beans/rice and baking paper and then bake for a further 10 minutes, or until dried and golden.
Method for the Spinach, Fetta and Ricotta Filling
- Over medium heat, melt the butter in a deep frying pan. Add the spinach and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted and the water has evaporated.
- Place the wilted spinach in a strainer and allow to cool.
- Combine the fetta and the ricotta, using a fork to break down the fetta.
- Squeeze out any excess liquid from the now cool spinach and finely chop, adding it to the cheese mixture.
- Add the thicken cream and eggs and stir to combine – keep stirring, this one take a while to come together.
- Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
- Pour into the blind-baked pastry shell and back for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing the quiche from the tin.
- Serve with a snowpea and cucumber salad, or your favourite salad.
Sidenote: Depending on the size of the quiche tin used, there may be some filling mixture left over. If so, you can store it in the fridge overnight to make scrambled eggs the next morning – just add a couple of extra eggs, mix it all up and you are good to go.