Spinach Pie Genoa Style

In Italy savory pies are love affairs: every region has its own secret recipe for a variation on Torta Rustica, with a multitude of filling, but always with a couple of omnipresent ingredients: flour dough, lots of vegetables, a couple of eggs and cheese.

As you see right away those are very filling and satisfying pies, that can be brought to work for a quick lunch, or as a snack during the Sunday hike or for the day at the beach. And as always inspired by the need of feeding the family without breaking the bank, often reusing some leftovers or some wild growing vegetables to be picked for free.

I discovered the method that we are going to use for this one from my dear friend Marica, from Genoa. To tell you the truth she made it for me with butternut squash filling, and I was flabbergasted. It could be a very welcome main dish for the vegetarians at your Holiday table!

In Liguria people mostly use different kinds of green leafy vegetables for the filling, some of them growing wild in the fields; to simplify a bit and no to put you off we will use spinach, readily available already washed in every grocery store. You could also use what is labeled as “power greens”, a mixture of young kale and spinach, or chard.

The secret of this delicious pie is in the dough: instead of using a store-bought puff pastry or a bread style dough, we are going to make something that, strangely enough, makes me think of the crispy baklava dough from our Arabic countries’ neighbors. Layers of thin, super thin dough, hand rolled, and brushed each time with the fantastic Extra Virgin Olive Oil preferably from Liguria as well. Strange? Not so much, just fusion ante litteram: Genoa was one of the most important Maritime Republics from the X century through all of the Middle Ages, flourished during the Crusades, became very rich supporting the Spanish Monarchy in the XVII century and stayed independent through the end of XVIII century when it was conquered by Napoleon. In all this time Genoa never stopped crossing the Mediterranean Sea with its fleet of merchant ships, and trading with all the people of the Mediterranean basin, thus the influence.

This dish can be made ahead and reheats beautifully. It can also be used as a side dish of course.

Useless to say, this is a super healthy way of stuffing yourself this Winter!


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)