Food I cook for my family, baking recipes, cookbook reviews, and your cooking questions answered
Ina Garten is one of my tried and tested cookbook authors. Her recipes are rich and offer huge portions, but are incredibly reliable. You get what you see, which is more than I can say of other cookbook writers.
An excellent vegetarian entree, serve this tart hot/warm with a green salad with tomatoes for contrast and colour. No doubt, the inspiration for this recipe is all manner of Middle-Eastern spinach pies and tarts, with a white cheese, often feta. So feel free to ring changes with the cheese you use.
Buy all-butter puff if you can. The flavour is way better than pastry made with shortening, even if the texture is good. There are some things even I draw a line at. Making puff pastry is one of those. It’s really not worth the effort for something that’s used so infrequently. Garten’s recipe doesn’t state how much pastry (specifies the no. of sheets, but American sizes are different to those elsewhere). The best guide is to use about 300g to 350g of pastry and either buy it ready-rolled (preferred) or roll it quite thin (about 3-4mm).
Lining the tray
Use proper parchment paper for lining the tray. I learned (the hard way) not to use waxed paper as it sticks to the pastry.
This is one of my go-to recipes for when I need to make ahead something vegetarian but impressive nonetheless. The entire tart can be assembled and kept in the fridge beforehand and just baked about an hour before eating. It's totally fuss-free. The recipe uses frozen spinach, so it’s super easy to make the filling.
Sauté onions in butter over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes until tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
Meanwhile, squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a bowl. (Don’t make the spinach too dry, else the filling will not be moist enough).
Add the spinach to the frying pan with the onions and stir for 2-3 minutes to incorporate and dry out any excess moisture.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the spring onions, cheeses, eggs (keeping about ¼ cup for later) bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pine nuts. Mix well.
Mix the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash and keep aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the pastry into 2. If the rolled pastry has smaller sheets, you can join the sheets using some beaten egg wash to make a total of 2 sheets. Place one sheet of puff pastry on the tray lined with parchment.
Spread the spinach mixture over the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border.
Brush the border with the egg wash. Roll out the second piece of puff pastry on a floured board until it’s an inch larger in each direction.
Place the second sheet of pastry over the spinach and seal the edges, crimping them with a fork. At this stage, the whole tray can be covered with cling wrap and refrigerated. Bake straight from the fridge.
When ready to bake, brush the top with egg wash, but don’t let it drip down the sides or the pastry won’t rise.
Make three small slits in the pastry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned. Transfer to a cutting board, slice and serve hot!