This French spinach and cheese pie (tourte aux épinards) is what dreams are made of! At least the dreams of spinach lovers who can’t understand why their favorite veggie has such a bad rep. I love spinach, always have, always will and I can never get enough. If you’re like me, this spinach and cheese pie is perfect for you!
The pie crust is buttery and flaky and it encases an incredibly delicious spinach filling. Bound together with a béchamel sauce, this spinach filling is creamy, cheesy, and most certainly dreamy. I’ll be surprised if you don’t end up licking the bowl clean. It’s that good!
NO SOGGY BOTTOM HERE
It’s very important to squeeze as much water from the spinach as possible. If the filling is too wet the pie crust, especially the bottom, will not thoroughly bake. A soggy bottom isn’t very enjoyable, especially if you plan on serving this spinach and cheese pie for a picnic and you can’t hold 1 slice without it disintegrating in your hand. I don’t think it would go that far but since we’re not blind baking the pastry, we definitely need to get rid of the maximum amount of liquid in the filling. So don’t skip this step!
NO FAIL ALL-BUTTER PIE CRUST
I use this all-butter pie crust recipe for all of my savory pies and tarts (except for my leek tart, I like to add some lard to the pastry to make it extra flaky). It’s reliable, time-tested and pretty forgiving as long as you don’t overwork the pastry. Gently gather the cold ingredients together, refrigerate the dough before rolling and you’ll get a delicious buttery pie crust!
Unpopular opinion ahead: Quiches and their eggy wobbly fillings really are overrated. I can’t stand the consistency of their fillings and I’ll only tolerate the taste if there is some sort of cheese thrown in there. However, I would gladly eat any other savory tarts or pies. There is something just so comforting about the combination of a buttery pie crust and a cheesy filling after all!
MY BEST FRIEND’S PIE
This recipe comes from one of my best friends who eats a lot of savory tarts and pies! We both lived close to our middle school and we would walk home together for lunch. I would ask her every day what was she planning on eating and you could be sure she would be having a leftover piece of tart from the night before. Whether it was an onion tart, a potato pie, a caramelized red pepper tart, a tuna tart, or this spinach and cheese pie, I was always so jealous! Especially so when I knew that potatoes were going to be included in my lunch (and my dad being from the North of France, it happened pretty much every day). My best friend’s dad being vegetarian, I think they were making a lot of tarts to have something filling at dinner.
Once you get around making pie crust, you can pretty much make a tart or pie with anything that’s in your fridge or pantry. It’s so convenient! Savory pastries were a rare occurrence in our house and I was so longing for some homemade buttery flaky pastry topped with something delicious! In return, my friend always wanted to come over when we were having French saucy meaty dishes (like boeuf bourguignon or cassoulet). Being a grownup has a few advantages and picking your own lunch is one of them. Goodbye tasteless boiled potatoes and hello tasty pies!
I did make some changes to the original recipe. My friend adds 3 tbsp of heavy cream to the filling. I don’t because I think the béchamel is enough to bind the filling and I don’t want it to become too stodgy. She doesn’t put goat’s cheese in her pie but I like the tang it brings with mild spinach. If you don’t like sharp cheeses, don’t add goat’s cheese but double the amount of shredded cheese.
FREEZING AND FRESH SPINACH
➝ How to freeze pie dough? You can double the ingredients and freeze half of the dough, which will be super handy for you next time you found yourself craving a pie. Gently press it into a smooth ball and flatten it slightly into a disk. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag. You can keep it there for up to 6 months as long as it is tightly wrapped. Thaw your pie dough overnight in the fridge before rolling.
➝ Can I use fresh spinach? Yes! However to get the same amount of cooked drained leaves you will have to double the amount of spinach. In other words, you will need 1.5kg (54oz) of fresh spinach to make this spinach and cheese pie. I could never bother going through all the cleaning and stemming when I can just dump a package of frozen spinach in a hot oiled pan, so I applaud you.
Interested in the Turkish version of this pie? Check out my recipe for spinach borek.Print
Rejoice spinach lovers, here’s the spinach and cheese pie of your dreams! The pie crust is buttery and flaky and it encases the most delicious and cheesy spinach filling.
For the pie crust:
- 140g butter, cubed (5 oz)
- 270g flour (2 cups)
- 1 tsp salt
- 115ml cold water (½ cup), you might need slightly less or more
For the spinach filling:
- 750g frozen spinach (27 oz)
- 30g butter (2 tbsp)
- 15g flour (1 ½ tbsp)
- 200ml whole milk (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ nutmeg, freshly grated
- 100g grated cheese (3.5 oz), I use Emmental
- 100g goat cheese log (3.5 oz), or you can use feta
- Cook the spinach according to the instructions written on the package. Drain in a colander set over the sink and squeeze out as much water as possible using the back of a wooden spoon. Leave the spinach in the colander and set aside until completely cool.
- Make the pie crust. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub it in lightly with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. It might take up to 6 min to get this result. Add ¾ of the water and stir with one hand. Add the rest of the water and more if needed to gather the flour eventually left in the mixing bowl. When the dough sticks together gently press it into a smooth ball and flatten it slightly into a disk. Wrap the pastry with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 min.
- Make the béchamel. Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-based pan (keep an eye on it). Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 min. Then, gradually add the milk while whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook (still whisking constantly) until the béchamel starts to boil, by this time it should have thickened a bit (this recipe is for a liquid béchamel so it won’t thicken a lot). Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg.
- Prepare the filling. To avoid having a soggy bottom, it’s important for the spinach to be as dry as possible so squeeze out any excess water again. Put the spinach in a mixing bowl and stir in the béchamel. Add the grated cheese and crumble up the goat cheese (or feta) on top. Mix until fully combined and taste the filling. You might need to add more salt at this point. The filling should be slightly over-seasoned because its flavor will be ‘weakened’ by the 2 layers of pastry encasing it.
- Roll the pie dough. Butter a 20cm (8 in) springform pan and line the base with baking parchment. Divide the cold dough; one third for the top crust and two thirds for the bottom crust. Press the 2 doughs into balls before rolling. Roll out the dough for the bottom crust (the bigger one) on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a round 4cm (1½ in) bigger than the base of the springform pan. The rolled dough should be about 4mm (0.2 in) thick. If the dough becomes soft and sticky as you roll, add a bit more flour under the pastry and on the rolling pin. Pick up the rolled pastry and brush off any excess flour. Line the pan with the rolled pastry and ease the dough across the bottom and up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Try to stick the excess pastry over the buttered sides of the mold. It’ll be easier to place the filling if the sides of the pie dough don’t fall over on the filling.
- Fill the pie and roll again! Spread the spinach and cheese filling evenly on the bottom crust. Roll the top pie crust like you rolled the bottom one and place it on top of the filling. Fold the excess pastry over the top pie crust and use your hands to mold it into a rim around the pie. Slit a 2cm (¾ in) hole in the center of the top pie crust. This will allow steam to escape so the pastry will be less soggy. If you have some leftover scraps of dough you can decorate the top of your pie!
- Bake the spinach and cheese pie. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and place a baking sheet on the middle rack to heat as well (placing the pie on a hot baking sheet will help baking the bottom of the pie and reduces the risk of a soggy bottom). If using a convection oven, preheat to 180°C (355°F). Place your spinach and cheese pie for 15 min in the freezer while the oven heats up. Place the pan on the baking sheet and bake for 1h10. Cover the top loosely with aluminum foil if it browns too much.
Let the spinach and cheese pie cool down a bit before serving as the pie is much more flavorful only slightly warm or at room temperature.
Leftovers will keep wrapped airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 526
- Fat: 33.3g
Keywords: french vegetarian recipes, spinach pie, vegetarian pie, picnic