Fantastic cheese, spinach and leek pie

Fantastic cheese, spinach and leek pie

Torta salata fantastica con formaggio, spinaci e porri

By
From
Venice
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

From the Anonimo Veneziano’s recipe, we have made a sumptuous pie that is as delicious to eat as it is impressive to look at. If you can’t find all the cheeses just use a good local one with a medium strength. The trick to making good pastry is to keep everything very cold and use as little water as possible. Shop-bought sheets of shortcrust pastry are fine alternatives.

For the pastry

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g ‘00’ or plain flour, plus extra for dusting
freshly ground black pepper
90g lard, cold, with a pinch of salt or salted butter, and cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons white wine, cold
50g parmesan, finely grated
1 egg yolk, to glaze
pinch ground saffron, to glaze (optional)

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
400g leeks, tough dark green parts discarded or used for stock, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
25g butter, plus extra for greasing
6 eggs
salt
freshly ground black pepper
375g spinach leaves, washed and stalks discarded
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
100g parmesan, finely grated
or 100g grana padano, finely grated
200g fontina, finely grated
or 200g asiago, finely grated

Method

  1. To make the pastry, sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the pepper. Using your fingers rub in the lard and salt, or butter if using, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the wine or water and bring the crumbs into a ball. (This can also be done in a food processor.) Knead briefly on a lightly floured work surface until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or overnight. (If you do leave it longer than 20 minutes, allow to soften a little at room temperature before rolling.)
  2. Meanwhile fry the leeks on a low heat in the oil and butter for around 15 minutes or until translucent. Steam or boil the spinach until tender, drain well and when cool squeeze dry with your hands. Chop finely or blitz in a food processor. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 20 cm, 6 cm deep, loose-bottomed tin, with butter. Remove the leeks from the heat and drain them in a sieve over a bowl.
  3. Flour the work surface and roll out the pastry to around 5 mm thick. Line the tin with the pastry by gathering it and pushing it out to the edges of the tin, and allowing it to flop over the top. Trim the excess pastry to 2 cm hanging over the tin, wrap it in plastic wrap and reserve for the lid. Chill the lined tin and the extra pastry again while you make up the fillings.
  4. Combine the fontina or asiago with 2 beaten eggs in a bowl, season and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the spinach, nutmeg and 2 beaten eggs together with the half the Parmesan. Season and set aside. Remove the lined tin from the fridge and cover the base with a layer of half of the leeks. Pour over the fontina mixture. Top this with the spinach mixture flattening it down with a spatula. Beat the remaining 2 eggs with the remaining Parmesan and pour over the spinach. Finish with the remaining leeks.
  5. Roll out the extra pastry to around 5 mm thick for the lid and lay over the top of the pie. I like to cut the lid so that it fits inside the rim and then I fold the edges of the casing pastry over it. If you find this difficult simply use a fork to push the lid onto the casing leaving little indentations around the edge. Poke a few holes in the lid with the tip of a small knife to allow the steam to escape. Beat 1 egg yolk with a pinch of saffron, if using, brush over the pie. Decorate with shapers of leftover pastry by sticking them down with the glaze. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and pulling away from the edges of the tin. Take out and set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the tin from the pie and serving. Best served at room temperature with a light salad.
Tags:
Venice
Giancarlo
Katie
Caldesi
Venetian
Italian
European
Mediterranean
Italy
Europe
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