This recipe comes from Alicia Lini via Food and Wine. She writes, “Flavorful and filling with a light, almost cracker-like crust, this rustic spinach pie relies on simple ingredients for an impressive finish. Because the spinach gently steams within the crust, it retains its fresh, verdant flavor even after cooking.”
So how is this different from spanakopita you might ask? Well, mostly because the dough is a short-crust variety, and not phyllo. Plus, well, it’s Italian! Originally from Emilia-Romagna.
What I liked, besides the great flavor, is that it really held together well, so the slices were almost like spinach hand pies.
Emilian Spinach and Cheese Pie
2 cups Italian-style 00 flour (about 8 ounces), plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Stir together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in 1/2 cup water and oil; stir together using a fork until shaggy pieces of dough form. Turn out dough and any remaining flour in bowl onto a clean work surface, and press into a shaggy ball. Knead until mostly smooth and elastic, 5 to 8 minutes. Dough should be slightly tacky; lightly dust with flour as needed if sticking to hands. Wrap in plastic wrap; let rest at room temperature at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack about 6 inches from heat source. Place spinach on a clean kitchen towel, and firmly squeeze over sink to remove as much liquid as possible; transfer spinach to a large bowl.
Cook oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-low, swirling skillet occasionally, until garlic is sizzling and light golden on 1 side, about 6 minutes. Because I don’t like browned garlic, I used a good, garlic-infused olive oil, and continued with the recipe.
Add spinach; cook, pulling apart spinach with tongs, until coated in oil mixture and warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Return spinach mixture to large bowl. Remove and discard garlic. Stir Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta, eggs, and salt into spinach mixture until thoroughly combined; set aside.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap dough, and divide evenly into 2 portions. Roll 1 portion out on a floured work surface into a 14- x 10-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim and discard excess dough. Gently roll dough rectangle around rolling pin, and unroll onto prepared baking sheet. Spoon spinach filling onto rectangle and spread in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll remaining dough portion out into a 13- x 9-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim and discard excess dough. Gently roll dough around rolling pin, and unroll to drape over spinach filling. Using your fingers, lightly moisten edges of dough with water. Fold edges of bottom dough over top edges, and press to seal. Prick top of dough all over using a fork. Drizzle evenly with olive oil.
Bake in preheated oven until crust is light golden, about 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil; do not remove pie from oven. Broil, watching carefully, until charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. (I thought mine was browned enough after 30 minutes.)
Let cool 15 minutes. Cut pie lengthwise into 4 even strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces.
This is so good as an appetizer, served warm.
I also served it as a light lunch, with a simple tomato salad on the side.