Pumpkin feta and spinach thing
I seem to be making a lot of non-descript things lately. Before I go on, I’m going to brag a bit about this pie/pizza/tart. Even if you don’t like pumpkin, spinach, or feta (I’m not even going to cover the possibility of you not liking cheese), TRY this. It. Is. Gorgeous. Not only is it fantastically dance-on-your-tongue-y, but it’s surprisingly easy for a tart, and I made the dough and pressed it out in a matter of minutes. That’s right. You CAN make delicious pies on a whim.
The crust was a crispy, flaky and nutty on the outside, soft and tender where it meets the filling. Mostly it’s based on the legendary Moosewood Cookbook (from the Spinach riccotta pie crust), by Mollie Katzen. It was THE crust I fell in love with, both for its unfussy directions and totally simple ingredients which anyone should have at any time anyway (what did I say about pies on a whim?!). I’ve posted about it before actually, but I used buttermilk this time and it was in a totally different league! Also, I can’t take any credit for the elaborated method – Smitten Kitchen had a great post about pie crusts and I thank her for that dearly! However, somehow this dough turned out fabulously, without the need for refrigerating, waiting or even a food processor… anyway! Before I make it all about the crust, the filling was fabulous too.
One last thing – the reason I don’t know whether to call this a pizza, pie or tart, is that the filling is incredibly thin-layered, and the whole thing is sprinkled with cheese (heheh). But then it does use a shortcrust pastry…but it’s not really a pie because it doesn’t have a lid…anyway, call it whatever you want. The awesome thing is, this is reheatable in the oven the next day like a pizza (just bang it in at 180C or 350F, without preheating is fine, and go for 15 mins from cold oven. Check after that to see if it’s done). But also, if you want a deep dish pie, you can just use a different pan. I’ve given an outline of what the filling ingredients do at the bottom too, so you can take out aspects that don’t appeal to you. Anyway, on with the recipe!
Pumpkin, feta and spinach pie/tart/pastry pizza
makes one 25cm/10″ to serve 4-8 (it’s very filling)
85g cold butter, chopped into 1cm-ish cubes
1c flour, plus more for dusting/incorporating later
1/3-1/2c wheatgerm – or use wholemeal flour. This is actually quite important as it gives the crust a much nicer flavour and texture
4Tbs approx ice water, cold buttermilk, or cold milk.
1/2tsp salt if using unsalted butter
With a pastry cutter or your fingers, rub the butter and flour and wheatgerm together in a medium sized bowl, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Don’t do too good a job – you want lots of small lumps of butter, with some bigger lumps not quite incorporated with the flour. Don’t freak out on me now!
Add the cold water, buttermilk (1st choice), or milk, and still using the pastry cutter or your fingers, half mix and half knead the mixture until it comes together to form a dough. You may need more milk if the dough is stiff and very difficult to knead. You can go a bit moister at this stage and incorporate more flour later easy, but you don’t want it too dry. You may get dough stuck on your fingers – don’t worry about that yet.
Now, sprinkle a generous amount of flour on a large chopping board or clean work surface. Scrape out all the dough, and begin to knead. Here you’ll get lots of the flour in if it’s a wet dough, which is fine. Once it forms its own shape easily and stops soaking up flour vigorously, shape it into a ball. Set aside, grab the bottom of your tart pan, and brush it very lightly with oil and then very lightly with flour. Plop your ball of dough on, sprinkle the outer rim of the work surface outside your tart pan base, and roll your base out, flouring every now and then to prevent it sticking to your rolling pin. Another option (if like me you don’t know where on earth your rolling pin has suddenly disappeared to) is just to press it out with the palm of your hand – shouldn’t be too hard if your dough is moist enough. You want the crust to overlap your base by the height of your tart pan. Once rolled out, pick it up carefully (you may need to slide a fish slice underneath to dislodge it), and plop it into your tart pan rim. Then tuck your sides in neatly, and if you like the ridged edges, lightly nudge your crust against the edge of your rim, so that it sort of sticks (Don’t worry, it’ll unstick during baking to reveal the pretty ridged edges).
In terms of which order you make the crust and filling in, it doesn’t matter too much. If you’re a traditionalist, you know that pie crusts should be refrigerated. If so, you can make the crust first, pop it in the fridge while making your filling, then bring it out once your filling is done. Or you can make your filling first, let it cool while you make the crust, and prevent it from heating your crust…see, either way is fine!
1/3 of a medium sized pumpkin, peeled, and roughly chopped (some bits will be dinky, but the max sized chunk should be 1″)
1/2 an onion, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch fresh oregano
handful of fresh spinach, washed and ripped to shreds
100g feta cheese, cubed into 1cm cubes (or replace with pinch of salt + roasted cashews)
1/4c finely grated parmesan (or replace with chopped roasted pistachios)
1/2c grated cheese (edam, mild cheddar) of your choice (or replace with 1/3c raw pumpkin seeds, which will roast while pie cooks)
salt and pepper
Heat a medium sized non stick pan on medium heat with about a Tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Add your onions (when pan is cold is fine), and wait until they start to sizzle. Stir them around a bit until they begin to turn translucent. Add pumpkin, cover, and let cook for about 2 minutes. Here you can prep some of your other ingredients to save time. Uncover, flip (or jerk the pan forwards quickly and immediately pull back to “flip” the veges), and re-cover the pan, letting the pumpkin cook for another 2-3 minutes. Uncover, and let all the steam evaporate, then add garlic, and stir occasionally. The pumpkin should eventually have some golden flecks on it. Once it is easily crushable with your spatula or fish slice, turn off heat, remove from heat, and add oregano. Mix through, and then let cool (if making the crust last, you can let all the things cool now). Preheat oven to 200C or 400F, with a rack in the middle or if using the middle rack for roast potatoes, arrange a rack on the bottom for the tart.
TO ASSEMBLE & COOK
Scatter half the spinach over the crust, then add the pumpkin mixture, spreading it evenly. Add feta cubes, the rest of the spinach, and finally, sprinkle over the parmesan and third cheese. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over. Slip onto the middle rack if baking nothing else in your oven, otherwise, on the bottom rack. Let bake for about 15 minutes (check at 10 if your oven is fast or fan forced) on the bottom rack, then re-arrange the rack on the top rack and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.
Serve with a fresh leafy salad or roast potatoes (new potatoes roasted are….so…good)
The pumpkin adds a little sweetness, and the addition of garlic and salt makes it sort of smoky tasting. Cooked the way specified above (ie, covering the pan) will retain a lot of moisture so the pumpkin will be creamy rather than powdery.
Spinach erm…really just adds some colour! There’s not much of it in the pie, so you can double the amount if you want extra veges.
Feta – mainly saltiness, but also pungent cheese-ness! I like Whitestone feta, which is usually available at NZ supermarkets (it’s a south island brand), as it’s not greasy and keeps its shape well.
Onions – added sweetness and smokiness once caramelised
Oregano – I dunno, it just tastes nice damnit!
Garlic – do I really need to explain this one?
Other cheeses – also self explanatory…baked or grilled cheese is just amazing.