Spinach pies are one of my favorite ways to use fresh spinach. In fact I never met a spinach pie that I didn’t like. With the usually cool wet spring we’re having here in the US this year, we may be looking at a bonanza spinach crop in home gardens all across America.
The recipe below uses pantry staples except for the fresh lemon and ground sumac. If you don’t have ground sumac or a fresh lemon you can leave out those ingredients and still come up with a tasty lunch or appetizer.
SPINACH PIES – Makes About 20
4 Teaspoons of Yeast
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Cup of Warm Water
3 ½ Cups of All Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup of Olive Oil
1 ½ Teaspoons of Salt
1 Medium Onion
1 ½ Teaspoons of Salt
1 Pound of Fresh Spinach
½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
½ Teaspoon Hot Red Pepper Flakes
½ Teaspoon Ground Sumac
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/3 Cup of Olive Oil
Make the Dough First
Pour the warm water into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Add the sugar and the yeast and set aside for about 8 – 10 minutes.
Measure the flour into a large bowl and add the olive oil. Stir with a fork and then rub the oil into the flour with both hands until well blended and smooth.
Add the salt to the yeast & sugar-water and stir well.
Pour the yeast/sugar-water mixture into the rubbed flour and make the dough. Knead the dough for about 3 or 4 minutes. The dough should be smooth and workable. Like pizza dough.
Place the dough in a warm place and allow it to rise for about 1 ¼ hours.
Make the Filling While the Dough Rises
Peel and dice the onion. The best pies are made with finely chopped onion, but my onions are always coarse chopped because I’m not a careful vegetable chopper.
Place the onion in a large bowl and sprinkle the onion with salt.
Wash the spinach very well and rinse twice if needed. Sometimes garden dirt and mud really clings to spinach. Discard any heavy stems or over large leaves.
Chop the spinach and mix with the onions.
Set aside in a warm place for a few minutes. Next begin to work and press the spinach with a wooden spoon to release the water. You want the spinach to wilt and to remove as much water as possible. A dry spinach mixture will give less trouble in the oven.
Squeeze out all of the water from the spinach and onion mix. Add the ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, ground sumac (if you have it), lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well and set aside.
Roll The Dough Out & Fill The Pies
Snip or tear the dough into about 20 walnut size pieces. Roll into balls and place them on a dry board or towel. Cover the balls and let rest for about 20 – 30 minutes.
Pre-Heat Oven to 450°F
On a wooden board or pastry canvas, form small rounds with a rolling-pin.
In each round place a scoop full of the spinach mixture.
Seal the rounds. There are many different ways to do this. I do it by pinching the round half way down.
Then I pick up the bottom end of the round and bring it up to meet the pinched section to form a triangle. Try to pinch the dough tight.
Spinach pies have a tendency to come unfolded while baking. There’s a real art to making a spinach pie that stays sealed. This is a case where practice makes perfect.
Place the seal pies on an ungreased baking sheet while you are working to finish them. When ready to bake, place the sheets into the preheated oven
Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or completely cooled.
Spinach pies will freeze for about 2 weeks – maybe longer. I don’t know because we can never keep out of them for any longer.
*** Recipe Notes
This recipe has Middle Eastern origins. In Syria a wild plant called “Silek” that grows only in the springtime is sometimes used. Here in the U.S. if you want to keep the “gathering wild food” thing going, you can use Lamb’s Quarters when you can find it. I’ve used frozen spinach with fair to good results. If you do use frozen spinach make sure the water is really drained out of it.
I always seem to have a little spinach filling left over. I like it raw so I just eat it.
If you notice too much hissing in the oven it’s because your spinach filling is too wet. Next time try and squeeze out a little more water.
I have mixed about 1/2 cup of feta cheese into the spinach mixture before with good results. You’ll end up with too much mixture for the 20 rounds but you can increase the dough recipe by a half (30 rounds) and end up just about where you should be.