Tarte aux Epinards

I know, “real” cooks aren’t suppose to follow recipes. They substitute with their intuition; the fresh & local flavors that are offered from the season’s bounty. Well guess what? I’m a baker.

There is something about following a recipe verbatim, that brings me into the moment. Its something about potentially learning a new technique or ingredient, unable to revert back to my same old tricks… my same old combinations.  The meditation and relief of just simply being told what to do. Don’t get me wrong, there is something oh so valuable about being able to use what you have and making last moment subs that sometimes make the recipe even better than its original. Creativity! But in making this spinach pie, I tried not to run too much off track and try something new. It kept me present and engaged.

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But, then again, I don’t know what I’m talking about…. I used butter instead of olive oil, added prosciutto, and cracked three eggs on top of this beauty that strayed from the original instruction. But in my defense, the recipe nudged me to reach for the red pepper flakes I rarely give attention to, and even forced me to go to the store to buy a shallot. I guess I’m just meandering somewhere between cook and baker. Regardless, the sure thing is, this is flipping delicious. You must try it, rule breakers and rule followers alike.

Spinach Pie with Butter Cracker Crust

serves 4-6 ; adapted from June 2013 Martha Stewart Living

Crust

1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/3 cup melted butter

1/3 cup water

Filling

1 ½ pounds spinach, rinsed well

1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 ounces goat cheese

¼ cup prosciutto, optional

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 large eggs

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon sesame seeds

  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the flour, salt, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter and water, then knead until a ball forms. Roll out dough into a 12-inch round and fit it to a 9 ½ inch tart or pie pan. Trim any excess length and if using a pie pan pinch the edges to look lovely. If using a tart pan, trim any excess length. Prick bottom all over with a fork and bake until crust is golden brown and crisp, about 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  2. Filling: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place spinach in a large pot and add a splash of water and cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, about 6 minutes or so. Transfer to a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, wrap in a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess water. Coarsely shop and transfer to a bowl. Wipe pot dry and heat butter over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, and prosciutto; cook, stirring, until shallot is softened, about 4 minutes. Add goat cheese, beaten eggs, and salt; stir until combined.
  3. Pour filling into crust and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 10 minutes and then crack the 3 remaining eggs on top of the tart. Bake until the eggs are fully cooked, about 20 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature with red pepper flakes and a dollop of sour cream if you dare.
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