Sunday, January 6, 2013

Diane's Spinach Pie

My neighbor across the street Diane is an Italian lady in her seventies who has lived on this same street since she was a child. She grew up in a house just up the street from her current house. When she got married her father and husband built a home, this is the same  place where she raised her children who are now adults and no longer live in the city. You see my neighborhood is one of the oldest "modern" subdivisions in the city and is an old Italian enclave. Though today my neighborhood is highly mixed, with only a few elderly Italian neighbors like Diane and her husband remaining. The children of these folks have moved out further away from the city into surrounding suburbs and counties. As affordable houses have become available Latin American, Caribbean, Cape Verdean, and African families now populate the neighborhood.

I am friendly with many of my neighbors and being the newest "kids on the block," we are often told stories about how the neighborhood has changed. The "old timers" are specially fond of telling stories that trace these changes. Sometimes I drop off some of my confections at Diane's house, because I know her husband Bob likes to eat sweets. In exchange, she'll give Khalil books or candy and sometimes she'll send a treat for us. The other day she sent us a spinach pie just warm out of the oven. Later, I stopped by to thank her and to ask her for the recipe. Diane was delighted to share it. First, she instructed me to get some basic "bread dough" from the corner bakery (we are lucky to have two old fashion Italian bakeries just at the end of the our street, as well as  Lebanese market and a Mexican grocery store). I went up to Sal's Bakery and picked up the dough for $1.20 (they had just run out of wheat dough when I got there, so I got "white dough).
Diane's recipe went like this: get the dough and put it in a bowl and let it rise for at least 1-hr before using it. Pour about 1/3 cup of olive oil in a pan, chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and add them to the oil (do not let the garlic burn), wash spinach (about 1 8 oz bag) and dry it very well toss it in the oil and garlic (I added 2 cups of fresh kale to this mix) sauté all together until spinach is "flat" remove from heat. Work the dough on the counter stretching it into a large square (this was the most difficult part for me, but with a lot of patience I eventually succeeded). Halve 1/3 cup of pitted black olives and several pieces of provolone cheese. 
Heat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a cookie sheet with olive oil. Layer the spinach/kale mix, add the olive oil and top with provolone cheese (unless you prefer it vegan). 
Vegan spinach pie.
 Vegetarian spinach pie. 

You can use a fork to close the edges. Put a small amount of olive oil on the top and put it in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes. When the pie browns evenly remove from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes before slicing. 
A couple of caveats: the pie will not fit in the cookie sheet, so Diane advices to shape it as a horse-shoe. Also, the dough is not supposed to have too many holes, but if you are a novice like me you might get holes but it tastes great anyhow. 

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