Behold, Mom’s Spinach-Ricotta Pie. Easily in my top ten favorites of Mom’s culinary masterpieces, it was the first recipe I asked her to teach me to make for the blog. I spent a wonderful spring afternoon in her kitchen, in the house where I grew up.
Mom always makes this pie in a 9×13 pan, perfect for a buffet. For the first time, she made the crust with butter instead of margarine, since I’ve eliminated most processed foods from my diet. The pie tasted phenomenally better, elevating this dish even higher on my list of favorites.
I helped with the filling, but for the crust, I let Mom show me how it’s done. She’s a true master, and I was the apprentice. I watched in awe as she placed a pastry cloth on her counter and sprinkled it with flour. (I had never even heard of a pastry cloth, but apparently, it makes it easier to roll out dough.) She also placed a cloth sock on her rolling pin, to prevent sticking.
Next, she turned her glass pan face-down on the cloth and sprinkled flour in a rectangular frame around the pan, about two inches away from the edges. She explained that this outline would guide her as she rolled out the crust. Genius!
Then, Mom worked that dough like a boss, with the utmost confidence. It was such a contrast to my excuse-me, pardon-me approach to rolling pastry crust in fear. My jaw dropped as I heard her smack her rolling pin on the ball of dough and listened to the rhythm of her work.
“Thwack!” Roll, lift.
“Thwack!” Roll, lift.
Mom meant business, and that dough knew it. It succumbed to her firm pressure, rolling out to a smooth consistency in no time. At one point, the crust started separating at the edges, which would have had me cussing and criticizing (and probably crying). But Mom just pushed that pastry back together with her fingertips and rolled right over it. So that’s how it’s done!
The spinach-ricotta pie came out of the oven looking like a work of art. And it was. Mom, Dad and I each devoured a huge piece, swooning and rolling our eyes after each bite. The combination of the buttery crust with the cheesy spinach filling was pure heaven.
I needed to run, so Mom sent me home with the rest of the pie, still warm. (Mom never lets me leave her house without food. It’s an Italian thing; my mother-in-law is the same way.)
The pie’s intoxicating aroma filled my van and tempted me all the way home. I thought about pulling over to the side of the road to sneak a piece, but that would be ridiculous. Surely, there would be a gas station somewhere. I was so distracted, I almost ran a red light. (I could just picture a police officer tapping on my vehicle’s steamed glass and being overtaken by the heavenly scent as I slowly rolled down my window.)
Finally, I made it home. I think I still had on my jacket as I rushed into the kitchen to cut myself another serving.
Recipe Source: My Mom