Spinach ricotta and butternut pie

March 5, 2010 § 7 Comments

This is a really great savory pie, a lovely hearty but not heavy supper or lunch.  But, something else first.  Everyone please take a look at my photos!  Finally, I have produced something akin to a nice photograph of my food!!!  How awesome is that?!  As far as I can tell, food styling and photography is pretty trendy right now – borderline obnoxiously so.  With the proliferation of a kajillion food blogs, it has become evident that there are also close to a kajillion rather good food photographers out there.  I am most definitely not one of them.  And it drives me crazy.  Because, even though I generally have a very negative gut reaction to things that are trendy (kind of an ironic sucker punch because I think I’m actually a sucker for trends) , I am obsessed with food photography.  But this is not new.  I have been obsessed with food photography since as early as I can remember.  Before I could even read, I have vivid memories of staring for long periods of time at pictures of food in my mom’s cookbooks.  Then later I graduated to my children’s cookbooks, and ordered my own subscriptions to cooking magazines before I was even in high school.  But, it never occurred to me to try to photograph my own food.  I never even owned a camera, so I didn’t take pictures of anything at all!

Then, I caved to my secret desire to blog about food and found myself wanting to have pictures on my posts.  This is how I made the very endlessly, mind blowingly, put on a sack cloth and rip out your hair-ingly frustrating discovery that taking good pictures of food is HARD.  Grrr.  But at the same time, I find it incredibly fun.  So, I’ve started to try to take better pictures.  I don’t even have a tripod (I use a pitcher!), and it’s awfully hard to save food to take pictures of it in the morning when the light in our apartment is optimal.  But, so be it, I am putting in the effort.  And, after much blood, sweat, and tears – or at least a lot of clicking, repositioning, and angry muttering – I feel I have finally taken some nice pictures.  New career, here I come…yeah right, but a girl can dream.

Anywho, this pie was the product of fond memories of a spinach ricotta pie a friend of mine served me at a dinner get together (she doesn’t cook meat, I can’t eat whole grains or legumes, so this pie and pizza were her go-tos when I came over!) and the fact that I still have some butternut squash from an epic farm stand pick up at the start of December. And, I have had squash and greens together before and they were awesome, so I knew the addition would work.  I used spinach, but really any cooking greens would be good, kale or chard, for example.  The addition of nutmeg was inspired by the thought of creamed spinach with nutmeg, and nutmeg in pumpkin pie, which shares a lot of traits with butternut.  Because I had a few pieces of uncooked bacon as well, I thought I’d sprinkle bacon bits on top for some extra salty, smoky goodness.  But, it would also rock as a totally vegetarian dish.

Spinach Ricotta Butternut Squash Pie

  • 1 pie crust, whatever is your favorite recipe
  • 1 small to medium butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • about 3 cups of chopped fresh spinach or other greens
  • about 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • about half a cup of grated sharp cheese (parmesan, sharp cheddar, gruyere, whatever floats your boat – I used some fancy pants cheese whose name I can’t remember that was leftover at our apartment by a friend who works in an artisinal cheese shop – lucky duck).
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half, remove the seeds, oil the cut side, and put it cut sides down on a baking sheet.  Roast at 425F until it is easily pierced by a fork – about 30-45 min. Remove from oven and set aside. 
  2. Roll out pie crust, and place in a 9 inch pie pan, put in refrigerator. 
  3. Chop onion.  Heat a couple of Tbs. of butter or olive oil (or, if you cooked some bacon to use as bacon bits on top, use the bacon grease in the pan) add the onion and sautee until soft, about 5 minutes.  Then, stir in your greens and sautee until wilted, several more minutes. 
  4. In a mixing bowl, stir together the greens mixture with the ricotta, egg, half of the grated cheese, and a dash of nutmeg (about ¼ – ½ tsp.) and about a tsp. of salt. 
  5. Remove pie crust from fridge.  Scoop butternut squash out of its skin, and spread a thick layer on the bottom of the crust (you probably won’t use up the whole squash, so save the rest for something else).  Spread the spinach and cheese mixture on top.  Sprinkle with bacon bits and the remaining grated cheese.  Bake in the oven at 375F for about 45 minutes, until it is firm in the middle and the crust is golden.  Serve warm with a salad.

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§ 7 Responses to Spinach ricotta and butternut pie

  • Wow. The pictures are great. Did you get a camera?And the pie looks so yummy. I’m trying this one for sure.

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Nope, I haven’t gotten my own camera yet. I’m using Joel’s little point and shoot (and some of the photos on older posts are taken with his iphone – not so well focused!). But, I have high hopes of getting a snazzier camera and a tripod one of these days soon.

  • Beth says:

    Emily – we got an e-mail from Marit in Cameroun asking for recipes – they have root veggies but not much meat – and she was thinking hot dishes. So I sent her your recent soup entry but maybe you could do some thinking on what they could do – they have an oven (lo-med-hi). She can give you more specifics on what’s available . . .BTW I love your ideas and your writing! Keep it up!

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Thanks Beth! As far as root vegetables go, my main things to do with them are: soup; roast them by peeling them, chopping them, tossing them with oil and salt and just sticking them in the oven until they’re tender (tasty every time!); or else boiling them and mashing them up with various spices depending on my mood. If she has access to cream/milk and cheese she can make a gratin, or if she can get coconut milk and curry spices, she can also cook them in a curry! I can email her directly with ideas :).

  • Beth says:

    Great ideas. Can you e-mail her directly? Then they won’t be lost in translation . . . or put them on the blog so everybody can benefit too!

  • Lindsay Atnip says:

    Was looking for a recipe to use up some ricotta and a butternut squash–I made this into a casserole (in a 9X13 dish) without pie crust, and it worked very nicely. Used frozen spinach, added thyme, 3/4 cup walnuts (toasted for a few min. and coarsely chopped) and a zucchini, which I sauteed with the onion and greens. Very satisfying–thanks!

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