The best vegetables of spring–asparagus, artichokes and baby spinach–come together in this Greek-inspired vegetable pie with feta cheese and filo crust.
Did you hear that?
I didn’t either….and…. It. Was. Wonderful. Today was a day of quiet and I savored every moment of “the quiet.”
We’ve had a busy, bustling household for the past month or so. It’s rare that we see so much activity around here. My wonderful mother-in-law, Shirley, came to visit and that means kids, grandkids, going here, going there, in, out, doing this, doing that for a month straight. Lots of memories and good times but….whew.
We were all up before 5:00 a.m. this morning as my hubby had to get her to the airport. They left about 5:15 a.m. For the next seven hours, I just did my “stuff” without radio or television: Bookkeeping, menu planning, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, cleaning Jade’s litter box and blog this-and-that. Just me and “the quiet.”
Sigh. May I have another day tomorrow that was just like today?
Poof. Spell broken and it’s back to reality! Tomorrow is back to work.
This Greek-inspired Spring Vegetable Pie with Feta Cheese and Filo Crust is just as heavenly and sublime as a quiet day all to yourself.
Layers of baby spinach, artichoke hearts, and asparagus with feta cheese in a ricotta custard are nestled in a crispy filo dough crust. Serious heavenly goodness.
The trickiest part of this whole dish is the filo pastry crust–filo is paper thin. Um, less than paper thin! Remember the old onion skin we used to make carbon copies on in typing class? Maybe you’re too young, but filo is just about as thin and it can be a nuisance to work with. However, don’t let that stress you out. Just brush each sheet with butter and layer and fold however you need to to create this flaky, layered crust. The filling will hide everything!
A box of filo dough has hundreds of paper-thin sheets so you have plenty to work with. If it tears, no worries. Just brush, layer and form the crust. I know I sound like a certain presidential candidate right now, but trust me, it’s going to be wonderful.
There’s no need to blind bake the crust. After roasting the asparagus, place an empty baking sheet in the oven so that it gets good and hot. When you place the pie on it, the heat from the baking sheet will help make the crust crispy as it bakes. In addition, the layer of Parmesan cheese that is sprinkled over the bottom forms a barrier so the custard doesn’t soak right into the crust. I’ve got your back on this one!
If you are able to cut the asparagus just right with every other one just a tad longer, you can get all the spears to meet neatly in the center. I didn’t do that and had a “hole” in the center so I placed two artichoke hearts into the center to finish it off. You’re going to be so proud to serve this at your next brunch or lunch. Enjoy!
The best vegetables of spring--asparagus, artichokes and baby spinach--come together in this Greek-inspired vegetable pie with feta cheese and filo crust.
30 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hr, 15 Total Time
1 stick unsalted butter
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed (approximately 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
4 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
15-18 filo dough/pastry sheets (or as needed)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1 (12-ounce bag) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture, coarsely chopped, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the butter in a small stainless steel bowl and set in the oven to melt while the oven is preheating.
Bring a small pot of generously salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath.
Drop the asparagus into the boiling water to blanch it. Give it 15-20 seconds to turn vivid green. Immediately remove from the boiling water and drop into the ice bath. Cool, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan. Add spinach and garlic and cook until wilted. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a sieve or colander to drain, then gently press out as much water as possible.
Prepare crust. Brush a 9-inch pie pan or other round baking dish (9 to 10-inch diameter) with melted butter. Begin layering the filo pastry to form a crust: Carefully brush each sheet with melted butter, then place in the pie pan to form a layered crust. (Don't worry if crust doesn't fit perfectly, just layer, fold and form as needed.)
Place an empty baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
Sprinkle bottom of crust with Parmesan cheese, then layer as follows: Spinach, 1/2 cup feta cheese, artichoke hearts except for two, remaining 1/2 cup feta cheese.
Whisk together ricotta, eggs and half-and-half. Season with salt and black pepper. Carefully pour over the filling that you've assembled thus far.
Place as much asparagus as will fit around the top of the pie in a circular or pinwheel manner (reserving any left over for another use). Place remaining two artichoke hearts in the center if you can't get the asparagus to meet neatly in the center. (If they don't want to sit upright, place them in when the pie is nearly baked.)
Place on the hot baking sheet and bake 45-50 minutes or until lightly browned and set.
Recipe updated 3-17-17.