Gluten free silverbeet, herb and polenta pie for Easter

Sending the Yak to the superdoopermarket/green grocers is a hit and miss thing. He is very good at buying utilitarian dried goods (think loo paper, environmentally friendly toilet cleaner in the shape of a duck or gluten free taco shells) but one has to be extremely specific when it comes to fruit and vegetables.

Point in case….I once asked for some green beans. He came back with eight, yes eight, (count them people) individual green beans. I could have created an art installation from them but finding a way to incorporate eight beans into a recipe was a tad beyond my imagination.

When pondering a vegetarian gluten free recipe as part of a shared Easter celebration, I lovingly reminisced upon the traditional spanokopita. That wonderful Greek pie consisting of silverbeet or spinach, ricotta, feta, herbs and flaky layers of pastry. Pastry that The Yak can no longer partake of. Thinking cap placed firmly atop of my noggin, I thunked. Perhaps a polenta crust atop a semi-traditional spinach pie would be quite the treat? (Or a total disaster.)

Curiosity led me to pondering the Greek connection between ground corn and food. Googlebumbling revealed that ground corn has indeed been used in Greek cooking in various ways for several hundred years. It possibly arrived in Greece, courtesy of the Turkish Ottoman Empire by way of Africa. Amongst other uses, it is sprinkled atop leafy green pies or placed underneath to soak up the juices. I have added the link to the very interesting article, after the photos in this post.

Once upon a time, I used to favour a spanokopita recipe by Matthew Evans (a former chef and food critic, now television host). It contained an abundance of herbs, leafy greens and cheese. Having lost this recipe, I now make it merely from memory. (Not the most reliable of sources.) Do not freak out at the amount of herbs in this recipe. It seems a lot but it works. Need it be said, The Yak did not do the shopping for this dish.

This pie is audaciously herbaceous. The salty hits of feta and kefalograviera (a salty Greek hard sheeps milk cheese), combined with the slightly sweet corn polenta, balance the meadowy punch in the face. But this is the kind of face punch that you happily go back for.

Sadly I missed out on the actual abundant Easter feast itself due to Kid 2 and a tummy bug. However, I did get to eat leftovers of this pie. I poured myself a glass of vino, tucked in and pretended I was on a Greek island somewhere. (In a place where stomach viruses did not exist.)

SILVERBEET, HERB AND POLENTA PIE

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch spring onion, finely chopped
1 big bunch chopped silverbeet, trim the woody ends and use the leafy greens and some of the softer stem. (I had roughly 700g once trimmed of stalks.)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Eggs, beaten
300g Ricotta
200g Feta, crumbled
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
Zest of one lemon and juice for the silverbeet
1 tsp Salt
Pepper

Polenta Crust
1.5 cups instant polenta
5 cups water
1 1/2 tbl butter
120g kefalograviera cheese (Use 1/4 cup to add to the polenta and the rest to sprinkle on top of the pie.)

HOW YOU DO IT
In a large frypan, sauté the chopped onion for a few minutes until they start to become translucent, add the chopped spring onions, sauté for one minute.
Remove the mixture from the pan into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Re-heat the pan to a medium heat, add the chopped silverbeet along with a big squeeze of lemon and cook, stirring regularly until it has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. When it has cooled, squeeze out any remaining liquid.
Into the large bowl containing the onion mixture, add the silverbeet, nutmeg, beaten eggs, ricotta, feta, chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt and a few big grinds of black pepper, as much as you fancy. (I am not the pepper police!)
Mix well, taste and check for seasoning.
Smooth this mixture into a large oiled baking dish, I use a 3 litre rectangular Pyrex dish.
Preheat the oven to 180 C if you are cooking the dish immediately.
Polenta Crust
For the polenta. Heat the water in a medium saucepan until it just starts to boil. Using a whisk, slowly pour in the polenta, continuing to whisk. This is important as it avoids lumpy polenta.
Change to a wooden spoon, turn the heat to low and continue to cook the polenta, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. Add the butter and 1/4 cup of the kefalograviera, it should be of a spreadable consistency.
Remove the polenta from the heat and immediately, spread it over the silverbeet, herb and egg mixture.
Let cool for ten minutes. Sprinkle the remaining kefalograviera cheese on top, and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top. (You can also place the pie in the fridge if you are cooking the next day.)
Let the pie rest for about 15-20 minutes until it has set a little bit.
Serve with a green salad, or roasted veggies.
Cooking Notes: silverbeet is also know as chard. If you cannot find Kefalograviera, use Pecorino, Parmesan or Gruyere.

A Cheergerm creation

http://www.dianekochilas.com/when-greeks-do-corn/

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefalograviera

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28 thoughts on “Gluten free silverbeet, herb and polenta pie for Easter

  1. This looks so good, Mrs Golden Beck. I am with you on the herbs- the more the better. Love the idea of polenta in place of filo pastry, as polenta is ore likely to be lurking in the pantry as a staple. I will make this when I get back from my trip!

  2. Brilliant! Yes, you are spot on with the Ottoman-corn connection. They also introduced rice to Greece. Pontic Greeks (immigrants from the Black Sea area) are really keen corn eaters. And, silverbeet is the most common “spinach” used in Greece. My Greek friends turn their noses up at the tender stuff we get here. Love the herbs in your filling – exactly what I do as well. This looks like something even the polenta haters (not me!) in my house might like.

  3. I always learn something from your posts, and most especially new vocabulary. What a gorgeous word, silverbeet! From the photo, I suspect it is what we call chard. Naturally I am a big fan of any pie with herbs, greens and cheese 🙂 The polenta topping is perfect!

    • Thanks LM! Yes, it is chard, one and the same. It’s rather neat how we have all these different names for things. I had an inkling that this pie was your cup of tea, so to speak. ☺️

  4. Your recipes are always unusual and perfect, but for the life of me I can’t know why you aren’t taking photos for restaurants and other food-related ventures. I will admit after I read your post, I go back through just for another gander at your lovely crisp photos!

  5. Oh, Cheergerm, what a gorgeous pie. My kids adore spanokopita and reading your version of it has whetted my appetite to toss the blankets of crispy butter and flour and use the cornmeal. Grits are a staple here in Virginia, so there’s always an abundance of yellow and white meal in the pantry.
    As a writer, I often feel it necessary to speak up when I see other’s words that are somewhat extraordinary, and today’s post, Cheer, was so wonderfully written. Your sense of humor truly shines through this piece, and your unique and quirky voice pulls me into the post like it’s a breezy beautiful ride I don’t want to get off. Congrats. I loved it.
    And many thanks for the terrific link to Ms. Kochilas’s web site. That recipe she created for Sweet Greek Corn Cream is going on the grocery list. I shall give it a test in preparation for Turkey Day–if I can find the lone remaining pumpkin to work with!
    One of my favorites this week.
    Cheers!

    • Oh Mrs Peak. You have completely made my day with your comments. Regarding the pie and this collection of my words. Truly. ☺️ Cornmeal is such a versatile ingredient, you must do some pretty yummy dishes with it as well. How good did that Greek Corn Cream look? I am sure it will be a fabulous accompaniment on your Turkey Day. Gobble, gobble.

  6. Pingback: Easter egg biscuits and Miffy | The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak

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