There are few ingredients that don’t benefit from being tossed irreverently into a perfectly-flaky pie crust but for the life of me, I can’t think of what they are right now. As a general rule of thumb, I think mostly everything is better in pie form. Cheese? Check. Berries? Check. Meat? Check. Potatoes? Do you really have to ask?
The great thing about this theory is that it’s also a god-saver for when you need something respectable on the table, pronto. Take this humble little breakfast pie, for instance. If you were to be served plain spinach and tomatoes, with a side of eggs for breakfast – meh. But in a pie crust? Popped into the oven and baked until the spinach is crisp, the eggs are just done and the cheese is golden? I think you’d be impressed.
In terms of prep work, this pie is fairly low on the scale of one to tearing your hair out. Tomatoes are diced and cooked for a few minutes with onions and chopped garlic, spinach is briefly sauteed with butter and egg crumbs and flour is kneaded with butter to make a quickie crust. Everything is poured into the shell, crack a couple of eggs and some cheese over it and you’re 15 minutes away from having an honest-to-god healthy breakfast pie.
For the pie crust (these amounts make enough for an 8″ pie dish):8 tbsp of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of flour
4 tbsp of iced water
1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch spinach
2 or 3 eggs
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped/grated cheddar
Salt to taste
Prepare the pastry dough: whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. Make sure the butter is cold (I popped it into the freezer for 10 minutes before using it) and chop it into tiny chunks. Add this to the flour mixture and mix with your hands until the flour feels silky and the butter is reduced to pea-sized bits.
Add the iced water one tablespoon at a time, kneading the dough as you go. Pat it into a ball, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it for half an hour.
In the meantime, turn your attention to the filling: finely chop of the tomatoes and the onion, and mince the garlic. Heat a little butter in a pan and sautee the garlic until fragrant. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent. Add the tomatoes and 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
In another pan, boil some water and blanch the spinach. Don’t let the spinach cook for more than about 30 seconds: you don’t want it too soggy. Set aside.
Check the tomatoes and onions – they should have reduced to a thicker, sauce-like consistency. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and cook for another minute, before taking the pan off the heat. Stir the spinach into it and set aside.
Grease the pie dish. Take the pie dough out of the fridge and roll out on a flour-dusted surface till it’s around 1/4 inch thick. Roll it around a rolling-pin and then flip it over the pie dish. Trim the edges.
Pour the tomato base into the pie shell. Crack the eggs over the top and add the chopped or grated cheddar. Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes. Start checking in on the pie at the 15-minute mark to judge when the eggs are done. Once they’re cooked, take the pie out of the oven and let it cool before slicing.