Ricotta and spinach individual pies – meatless Monday

I post a lot of recipes with ricotta in them. I can’t help it. When I walk past a delicatessen with a fresh mound of ricotta on a plate in the display window I can’t help stopping to buy at least half a kilo. Then I always have some in the fridge to have as a spuntino, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil and spread on bread.

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One of my favorite ways to have ricotta (or other soft cheeses) is with greens – this combination crosses so many cultures and dishes – think of Greek Spanakopita, Turkish spinach and cheese Pide, Italian ricotta and spinach Gnudi. Since becoming an Instagram addict (my Instagram feed is on the side of this post) and finding like-minded foodies across the globe, I have taken up the tradition of “Meatless Mondays”. So these pies are a favorite. I use any greens I have – silver beet, spinach or cavolo nero – and add lots of parsley picked from the garden.

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If I have time, I make my own shortcrust or rough puff pastry. It tastes so much nicer making your own. The rough puff pastry is a Maggie Beer recipe (link in recipe below). You can increase the times you fold it and roll it to give it more “puff” and it keeps in the fridge, all folded up and wrapped in cling film for 24 hours. These delicious pies, with their rich pastry and contrasting light, herby ricotta filling are perfect for a slightly decadent albeit meatless Monday.

Spinach and ricotta puff pies
makes 8 individual pies
Pastry of your choice (I used this recipe, quantities halved)
Filling:
1 bunch greens (I used silver beet but you can use your favorite green, washed, stems removed)
1 clove garlic, finely diced or minced
splash olive oil
500g ricotta
2 large eggs
1 cup grated parmigiano cheese
1/2 bunch parsley, leaves picked
Large pinch grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and remove the spine from the silver beet and place in a large pot of boiling water and cook a few minutes until softened. Drain and refresh with iced water to retain the green colour. When cool enough to handle, chop as fine as you would like the silver beet in the pies to be. Heat a splash of olive oil on medium heat in a medium sized fry pan and toss in the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the chopped silver beet and cook for a few minutes, until it is well covered by the olive oil and infused with garlic. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the rest of the ingredients plus the cooled silver beet in a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Taste and add salt as needed. Set aside and roll out your pastry so that it is a couple of millimeters thick. Cut it into large circles, about 14 cm diameter. Place the filling in the centre of each circle, leaving a border of 1.5 – 2 cm. Folder the border over the filling and pinch the edges so they stay together. When all your pies are made, place in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden. Serve with a sauce of your choice.

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