Want to get your kids to eat spinach but don’t know how to do it? Try these irresistible sunflower spinach pies! Find this and many more recipes with pictures on the English version of the Giallozafferano App http://itunes.apple.com/app/giallozafferano-recipes/id384387249?mt=8
We’ll make mini savoury pies, so let’s start with the shortcrust pastry: combine the butter and the flour in a food processor with a metal blade and process until you have a breadcrumb like mixture; in this way, the butter will be better incorporated into the dough. All-purpose flour and butter, cold from the fridge, and blend! Now add the ice-cold water: the shortcrust pastry dough has a high fat content, there’s a good deal of butter, so the ingredients must be cold; you can even chill the bowl, if the room temperature is warm. Bring the dough together in the bowl, then transfer to a work surface and knead until smooth. Handle the dough as little as possible, because kneading develops the gluten and makes the dough tough. Once your dough is smooth like this, form into a flattened ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to set for at least half an hour.
Now prepare the filling: I’m using ricotta, ham and spinach, that I sautéed in a little water to preserve the colour and the flavour. Feel free to substitute one or more ingredients of course: tomatoes, parmesan cheese, pumpkin, ricotta, pesto, there are endless tasty combinations to try! Blend until creamy and it’s ready, it’s super easy as you can see. Add a pinch of salt and put the filling in a pastry bag, to make filling the sunflowers easier.
We can assemble the sunflowers: take the dough and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/16 inch (1 mm). You can use puff pastry instead of shortcrust pastry, if desired. Take a round cookie cutter, 4 ⅓ inches (11 cm) in diameter, and cut out 10 circles. Reroll the scraps, cover with cling film and return to the fridge, then roll out the dough again and cut out 10 more circles. Here’s how to create a sunflower: firstly brush the circle with beaten egg, place a dollop of filling in the centre, then pipe a ring of filling, leaving a border of about ½ inch (1 cm) around the centre and the edge. Place another circle of dough on top: use your fingers to press the dough around the filling, otherwise use a small bowl, about 1 ½-2 inches (4-5 cm) in diameter; now press the edges to seal and use a fork to make a decorative border. I’m going to make a sweet version, using ricotta and hazelnut spread, or jam: let me know if you try it first! And now, the petals of the sunflower: make cuts from the bowl to the edge of the dough, at about ½-inch (1 cm) intervals. Start by dividing the outer ring into 4 equal parts, then cut each part into 4 sections. Now transfer to a baking tray, lined with parchment paper; brush the centre with the beaten egg to make it dark brown. Twist each section in the same direction to expose the green filling. Repeat until the ingredients are used up. Bake in a preheated static oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 20-25 minutes. And while the sunflowers are baking, let’s see together the ingredients needed for this recipe!
for 10 mini pies
For the shortcrust pastry
- 1 ½ cups (200 g) of all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 g) of butter
- 4 ¾ tbsp (70 ml) of ice cold water
- 2 ⅔ cups (80 g) of spinach
- ⅕ cup (50 g) of ricotta cheese
- 2 ⅔ oz (75 g) of ham
- ⅕ cup (20 g) of grated cheese
- 1 pinch of salt
- a little extra virgin olive oil
- 1 egg