PALAZZETTI MAGAZINE
You don’t have to prepare refined, exclusive dishes to make your guests happy. Very often all you need to please everyone are just a few, marvellous, healthy and seasonal ingredients thrown together to make a wholesome dish.  Just like the smell of simple things prepared with care that tells you there is someone who can’t wait for you to get home. Just like this Easter pie with a novel shape but a traditional soul. To me, Easter has always marked the beginning of the season in which the sun shines on your face, the heart sings in harmony with the crisp spring air, cherry trees start to bloom, sleeves become short, people go to the sea and enjoy al fresco meals. Easter reminds one of freshly-baked puff pastry; the smell of fragrant, warm butter; the bright green of fresh spinach; the light, cocooning delicacy of ricotta cheese. It has the taste of reassuring hard-boiled eggs that are an essential ingredient of any Easter celebration. Easter goes perfectly with a linen tablecloth decorated with eggs and bunny rabbits, fresh tulips in a jug and the first buds peeping out of the branches outside the window. On this special day you can enjoy the magic of a lovingly-prepared meal, the delight of a barbecue ready to grill; and there’s a sunflower pie with spinach made from scratch with your own hands ready to share. Everyone knows that family gatherings mean tables overflowing with delicious food, leisurely meals, recipes jealously hidden away and handed down from mother to daughter. The tradition of preparing lots of different dishes – based on the principle that better too much than not enough  – and serving them all together, creates an extraordinary complexity consisting of contrasts and harmonies, flavours and aromas, consistencies and subtle differences that only meals prepared for a feast can offer. Nevertheless, unfortunately for us, even the best things have a down side. Traditional dishes – repeated year after year – although dear to the heart, may reveal themselves to be far from what our taste buds were expecting. No need to worry, most things can be remedied: with a little imagination and just a few simple steps you can give a fresh appeal to traditional recipes you don’t want to forget. One of these is the traditional, Italian, Easter pie. Presented again in the guise of a sunflower pie, this rustic vegetarian dish is the perfect recipe to bring a touch of breezy spring merriment to the Easter table. Flexible from all points of view, this sunflower pie with spinach is perfect served hot or warm as a starter or as a finger food to share with friends while sipping cocktails. Simply peal off “a petal” with your hands and enjoy its delicate, wholesome flavour. Let’s find out how to make our sunflower pie with spinach!

Sunflower pie with spinach: recipe

Ingredients

  • 500 g fresh spinach
  • 500 g cow’s milk ricotta cheese
  • 80 g grated Grana Padano cheese
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 unpeeled garlic clove
  • Salt and extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 packs of round puff pastry
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 beaten yoke for glazing
  • A handful of poppy seeds

Method

  1. Heat the right amount of extra virgin olive oil to cover the base of a large, non-stick pan. When hot, add a clove of unpeeled garlic and remove it after a few minutes.
  2. Quickly scald the spinach in hot oil until the water naturally contained in it has completely evaporated. Add salt to taste and as soon as the spinach has dried, has been seasoned and is cooked, remove it from the heat, set it aside and leave it to cool.
  3. Lightly beat the whole egg in a large bowl, add the ricotta cheese drained of its serum, a few pinches of salt and mix to obtain a smooth, even consistency.
  4. Add the spinach and the grated Grana Padano cheese to the ricotta mixture.
  5. Unroll the first sheet of puff pasty onto an oven pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Spoon out 1/3 of the spinach filling into the middle of the puff pasty, together with the whole, hard-boiled eggs so as to form a sort of mound. Add the remaining filling along the edges to make a sort of doughnut shape, taking care to leave an empty space a few centimetres wide along the edge and in the centre. You can do this with a spoon or a pastry bag.
  7. Brush the bare pastry edges with a little water and cover with the second circle of puff pastry. Shape it gently so that it completely covers the filling and seal the edges with a fork.
  8. Now take a cup large enough to mark a “flower-head” and place it in the middle of the pie, pressing gently.
  9. Leave the cup in place and cut 16 segments around it (just divide the pie into 4 parts and then divide each part into 4 again) taking care to make sure they remain attached to the centre of the pie (stop cutting at a distance of 0.5 centimetre from the cup).
  10. Now take the edge of a segment and twist it upwards at a 45° angle so as to bare the filling. Repeat with each segment to make the petals of your sunflower. Remove the cup and brush the surface of the puff pastry with the egg yoke beaten with a few drops of water. Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the centre of the flower.
  11. Bake in an oven preheated at 220°C (fan-assisted if possible) for the first 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180°C and continue to bake at the bottom of the oven for another 20 minutes.
Your sunflower pie with spinach is now ready to enjoy!

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