story by Dough Smith
I promise I will get to the spinach pie, but first, I must tell you about the Easter bonnet. Let’s go back about nineteen years. My daughter, Savannah, was one year old and Easter was quickly approaching. On Good Friday, we noticed Savannah didn’t have her Easter outfit. Being that this was a serious problem, my wife Jackie and I immediately went shopping. This was an all-day affair. Traveling to different stores, we spent hour after hour shuffling through different outfits. We drove from Florence to Georgetown, exploring different outlets. Our intentions were to shop for Savannah but there were so many gifts and antique stores that we simply had to explore.
After strolling on the boardwalk in Georgetown, we ate at a cute little cafe right on the water. We enjoyed each other’s company, talked about a lot of nothing and decided the fun was in the journey. Time passed by so quickly.
We eventually made our way to Charleston. To our next adventure we went! With more selections to choose from, Jackie became focused on Easter bonnets. Then out of nowhere, a simple white bonnet with a light pink ribbon and bow was happily purchased from a small boutique. With the Easter bonnet purchase complete, Jackie now has a new, clear, focused direction on the dress idea. “There is a dress that this very bonnet would look great with at a shop in Georgetown,” she said. With no time to spare, we were off, back to the cute little dress shop for the very dress that our new bonnet needed. The dress was bought, and Savannah’s Easter attire was completed. This day holds many of my favorite memories.
Now, how does an Easter bonnet remind me of Tuscan Spinach Pie? It was that same Good Friday of this adventure when I heard a radio interview with Francine Segan, a food historian, and author. She shared the story and recipe for Tuscany’s sweet spinach pie. I soon after discovered the fun in making this dish. It looks great and is quite delicious. I was so intrigued with the radio interview that I now make this pie as an Easter treat for my friends and family. Savannah doesn’t wear the bonnet anymore though, but she does enjoy the Spinach Pie.
Tuscan Spinach Pie
- 2 Deep dish ready to bake pie shells
- 12 ounces frozen spinach or 1 pound fresh baby spinach
- 8 ounces blanched ground peanuts or Almonds
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 lemon zested
- 1/4 cup Maraschino or other aromatic liqueur
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Cook the spinach in a few ounces of salted water until tender. Allow to cool.
- Squeeze out all the cooking liquids and finely chop in a mini food processor. Reserve.
- In a food processor, grind the almonds until they resemble coarse sand. Reserve.
- In a bowl, beat the yolks with 1/3 cup of the sugar until creamy and light yellow.
- Add the almonds and beat until well combined.
- Add the spinach, lemon zest and liqueur, and mix until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks form, then add in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until it forms a glossy meringue.
- Slowly fold the meringue into the yolk mixture.
- Pour into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and top with the remaining dough in a lattice pattern.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, until golden.
- Allow to cool to room temperature, then serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.
Recipe from Francine Segan Dolci: Italy’s Sweets
Get more from Doug Smith by following him on Facebook and Instagram at “Doug the Food Guy”.