Silverbeet(/chard) at its best. In a pie. With feta. And…more cheese!
We got a large, hefty packet of silverbeet in our produce box a week or two ago (props to silverbeet lasting this long…as a leafy vegetable, I was prepared for the worst when I gazed into the fridge). I panicked. Not only do I have bad memories of the taste of silverbeet…I have never cooked with it myself. Trying to see the positive side of things, I went with a classic, uncreative yet unfailable recipe: spinach silverbeet pie. Cheese, cheese and more cheese. To be fair, I did give it a chance on its own – I roasted the stalks, and they looked pretty…but let me advise against it in future. I’m not much of a bitter fan, you see. I like sweet, or sour, or salty…but bitter? Our bodies are designed to react to it with wrinkly noses, considering most toxic things tend to be bitter.
…Despite all that, this pie was bloody marvelous. I’m not saying you couldn’t use spinach in this…but I was quite impressed with how well the silverbeet turned out in place of it. It is a little bit of effort, granted, but oh man is it worth it. If you’re a pie newbie you can always try getting store bought pastry, cutting it into whatever shapes you can to encase the filling (which is not juicy or saucy, so you have the ultimate freedom when it comes to pie shape). In combination with onions and garlic, this is a total winner.
Yum yum spinach or silverbeet feta pie!
serves…as many as you want. Makes a 1″ thick 8″ pie.
1 large silverbeet, stalks removed (or about 2 c finely chopped leaves or spinach or silverbeet), leaves finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
few drops cooking oil
200g feta cheese, crumbled
50-100g cheese (you decide ;)), grated (edam is best here, as it’s less fatty…I love fat, but when I used mild cheddar, there was a bit of oozage…ahem)
freshly ground black pepper
optional: sliced or chopped mushrooms to top
For the 8″ pie:
Make shortcrust dough, roll out to a 10″ circle. Plop carefully into a lightly greased (or non-stick) 8″ pie pan (I just used a springform cake tin). The crust will come up the sides quite a bit, don’t worry too much about that, just pry them to the edges so that there’s enough space to empty your filling into. Throw in the fridge, and get ready to make your filling.
Heat a few drops of cooking oil in a medium sized frypan on a medium heat setting. Add garlic, and fry until it begins to smell aromatic (but don’t let it go golden). Add silverbeet/spinach, and turn down heat to the lowest setting. The point here is to evaporate off as much water as you can, so you get intense flavour and nutrients preserved (rather than squeezing them out and down the drain). Stir constantly until the leaves are uniformly wilted, remove from heat, and throw in a relatively large mixing bowl, trying to arrange on as thin a layer as possible (to ensure rapid cooling and further evaporation).
Preheat oven to 190C or 375F, arranging rack in the middle (or on bottom first if you’ve got something in the middle rack already…like roast potatoes…mmm)
Return pan to the heat, and turn it back up to medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter or oil, then the chopped onions, and cook until the onions are golden, stirring regularly. Remove from heat, and add to the silverbeet/spinach. Mix in pepper, crumbled feta and grated cheese.
Spoon filling into your assembled pastry crust(s). Fold sides over on top of your filling (or just leave it up if you want), and top with chopped mushrooms. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then rotate 180 degrees for even cooking, and let bake for another 20 minutes. If you start with the rack on the bottom, swap the rack to the top rack for the remaining 20 minutes of cooking. It may take up to an hour to cook in the oven, depending how thick your crust ends up being. It’s pretty much done when your crust is lightly browned (compared to when it was raw) and is hard when tapped. If making small pies, cooking time will vary.
Once cooked, remove from pan, and you can serve immediately (preferably with some refreshing salad, as this pie is pretty decadent.