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This is dedicated to my friend, who I will call ‘Schmalice’. She came up with the blog name, and also prompted me to make this recipe.
The problem with vegetarians are (nothing! I have no problems with vegetarians!) that they often have funny dietary requirements while also wearing leather shoes. Such hypocrisy is not found in my darling Schmal.
She knows that cheese contains rennet lots of the time (booo) and so, when we have a crisis-dinner-sesh I have to make sure that she is well catered for.
Enter, I kid you not, the vegetarian, run of the mill, no need to be refridgerated Shaker Cheese. The disgusting not-in-the-cheese aisle stuff. Doesn’t contain the nasty meatstuff (check the label, but I haven’t found any rennet in my local shops). The ricotta I use is also veg, but you’ll have to check the ingredients because its a gamble with the delicious soft cheeses. This pie also is delicious, and I ate at least 75% of the tray (a measley quarter with Schmalice and a half after she left) and didn’t save any for the working late boyf.
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup shaker parmesan cheese
1/2 block butter, chopped small and chilled
Extra Virgin OliveOil
1 Red onion
3 cloves garlic (or to taste)
Dried thyme (or chilli, or italian herbs – your preference)
1 Bunch English Spinach (2 cups loose baby spinach leaves)
2 heads of broccoli
3/4 cup ricotta (low-fat or full-fat to your preference, I used low-fat)
Olives – preferably Kalamata, preferably sliced, but I used the ones from a jar and worked out fine! And to taste, depending on how much you like olives. I love olives.
Fetta, to taste
In either a food processor or using the rubbing-in method (not as dirty as it sounds), combine butter, flour and parmesan cheese. Make sure all ingredients are chilled, and that you work quickly. This works best in a food processor, but I am unemployed, so … ain’t nobody got funds for that.
When the mixture resembles wet sand, add the chilled water by the tablespoonful. This is where I like to use a chopstick (so the heat of your hands don’t melt the butter) and a glass of iced water if you do not have a food processor. Continue mixing and adding water until the dough forms a ball. Dust with more plain flour, and knead until a smooth ball of dough. Chill in fridge for as much time as possible, but at least 10 minutes. I often don’t have time, and the pastry still turns out fine without giving it time to rest – but its much better if you let it chill). Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.
After dough has chilled, roll out and line a casserole dish, (chill again, if you’re fancy, for 10 minutes) whack some baking weights in it, prick with a fork and blind bake for 10-15 minutes. It should be slightly golden when you take it out.
While the pastry is cooking, fry up slices of red onion and garlic over medium-high heat. (You could also add red peppers/capsicum, or mushrooms) When onion is softened, add in sliced fresh spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly wilted. Add in broccoli florets and cook until a more vibrant shade of green. Take off heat, and mix in olives, reserving some for the top.
In a separate bowl (or just the container that it came in) crack two eggs, and blend with the ricotta. Mix in saucepan until veggies and cheese are combined.
Take pastry shell out of oven. Spread mixture evenly. Sprinkle vegetarian feta and olives over the top, and sprinkle some more shaker parmesan over the top of that. Spray with a little cooking spray, if you are so inclined. Whack back in oven.
Wait 20 minutes. Devour entire pie. Deelicious.
Should serve four, or one hungry Charlotte. Serve with simple salad with a punchy vinagrette.
With love, Charlotte