Comfort food is an essential part of everyone’s diet. There, doesn’t that sound comforting! Doesn’t that make you feel at ease! Of course, I’m not imagining here some sugar-laced, processed sweet item, but rather a simple, home-made, warm dish of wholefood that softly nourishes from the inside and feeds the inner glow.
For me, comfort can always been found in the deep wedges of a warm pie. I do love a fragrant chicken pie or beef and mushroom combo, yet ever since my brief time as a vegetarian teenager my absolute favourite has been a spinach and feta pie. The version from my youth featured layer upon layer of filo pastry, made in the traditional Greek style of Spanakopita. Wow, do the Greeks know how to make a great pie! But so do the Aussies, and I was very happy to accept the challenge of creating a pie that would not only be gluten-free, but also fit the Banting, low-carb-high-fat diet.
One staple of our kitchen is spinach – either fresh english spinach, silverbeet or frozen spinach so that it can always be included in the diet, even when not in season. I love including spinach in salads, smoothies, dips, wraps, soups, quiches, sautés, stews, curries, slow cooks – you get the picture, it happily acts as a BFF to so many other wholesome ingredients.
The best part is Spinach is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients, as Popeye the sailor man famously demonstrates. Yes, it is a fabulous source of iron, which is needed to boost energy levels due to its role carrying most of the oxygen supply around in the blood. Spinach also actively helps to protect the lining of the digestive tract, while working as a fantastic aid in reducing inflammation. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, B2, B6,E and K, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Yes, an impressive list don’t you think? Add to that spinach’s many flavonoids that act as antioxidants and have been discovered to act as anti-cancer substances, and I’m sure you’ll agree that we should all be including spinach in our daily diet.
Of course, one way to do this is with this spinach and feta pie! It can easily be made with a bunch of fresh silverbeet, cut into fine ribbons (I love the French word “chiffonade” for this style of knife cutting, it makes my home kitchen feel so fancy). Lightly steam the cut spinach and again squeeze as much moisture as possible out before combining with the other ingredients. When it comes to removing the pie from the flan tin, a good trick is to place a coffee cup upside down on the bench, balance the tin on top, and then gently ease the fluted edge off (pictured above). The pie is now ready to serve!
Spinach and Feta Comfort Pie
150g almonds, slivered
20g coconut flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
500g frozen spinach, defrosted and with as much liquid squeezed out as possible (use a colander and be vigilant with the squeezing!)
40g Parmesan or pecorino cheese, roughly cubed
300g feta, roughly cubed
4 spring onions, roughly chopped in 5cm lengths
2 dill sprigs
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
½ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- Preheat the oven to 180C, conventional oven setting.
- Grease and line a 23cm flan/quiche pan, with a removable base.
- For the pie crust, mill almonds in Thermomix 10 sec/speed 9.
- Add coconut flour, egg, salt and pepper and mix 15 sec/speed 5.
- Using a spatula, place pie crust mixture into the lined pan. Using your hands, loosely press into a round disc.
- Place a piece of baking paper over the top and smooth out the crust mixture evenly to the edges with your fingers and palm. The baking paper will help avoid any sticky moments! Remove and discard the top baking paper.
- Place flan pan on a baking tray. Using a fork, prick holes all over the crust base.
- Place baking tray in centre of oven, and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden.
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Using a washed and dried Thermomix bowl, add Parmesan cubes and grate 10 sec/speed 9. Set aside.
- Place spring onions and dill in bowl, and chop 3 sec/speed 7.
- Add drained and squeezed spinach, Parmesan, feta and ricotta cheeses, eggs, nutmeg, pepper, and EVOO. Mix 15 sec/speed 4.
- Tip onto pie crust base and spread out evenly.
- Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked in the middle.
- Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then serve warm.