This rice and spinach pie is such a wonderfully delicious vegetarian dish. With the sweetness of soft cooked leeks, fragrant spiced rice, two types of cheese and and the goodness of spinach this is a complete meal in one and perfect for a lunchbox or for dinner time! If you're after a comforting rice dish, this is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
This pie is all about comforting winter goodness. I decided to make it after a friend mentioned her mum's Italian rice and spinach pie. I thought that it sounded so delicious that it stuck in my mind. This version isn't based on her mum's but rather based on what I had in my vege box and fridge! I served this as it was with some marinara tomato sauce on the side. It doesn't need a salad because of the amount of vegetables already in it and I love it because it's such a quick meal that is also wholesome.
Don't want to make it a pie? I get that bread or pastry making is an extra step that you may not have time for. This makes a WONDERFUL pilaf!! Just make the rice itself and serve it with fish or chicken!
Use bought pastry! Filo pastry works really well with this pie. Use 8 sheets of buttered filo pastry for the base and 6-8 layers of filo pastry for the top!
What can I use instead of leeks? If leeks aren't in season try the same weight in golden eschallots or the white parts of spring onions.
Another reason why I love this recipe is because it can be made in parts. I know this because I decided to make this on a really busy long weekend. I cooked the rice on Friday and then I made the filling on Saturday along with the dough which I let rise in the fridge for two nights. Then on Monday morning I put it all together and baked it so we had something for the week ahead. So you can stretch it out over 1-4 days depending on the amount of time you have!
On the weekend we saw a movie for the first time in ages. How are you going with your dine and discover vouchers Dear Reader? Are you getting stressed out about using them before they expire? For anyone that outside of NSW, the state government gave everyone 4x $25 vouchers to spend at restaurants and entertainment businesses to encourage people to go out and spend because of COVID-19 (I hesitate to say post COVID because we are still in the midst of it).
The Dine vouchers were very easy to use up but the Discover or Entertainment ones required a bit of thinking. If you have kids they're probably easy to use but the only thing that really appealed to us was the movies. Some movie chains like Event and Hoyts are giving 2 tickets for each $25 voucher or 1 Gold Class voucher per $25 voucher. We decided to go for the Gold Class and we booked in tickets to In The Heights, the new movie musical based on the stage play by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes and the creator of Hamilton Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Jon M. Chu of Crazy Rich Asians.
It always takes a bit of convincing for Mr NQN to see a musical but every time he sees one he absolutely loves it. I definitely recommend seeing In The Heights as the music was great but I also loved the storylines of each character and the strong female leads. It's also funny and joyful. Oh and more good news if you're thinking of seeing it - they've also extended the vouchers so that they can used until the 31st of July and you can also buy vouchers to use them at a later date.
And that night for dinner? It was a slice of this pie!
So tell me Dear Reader, NSW peeps, have you used up your vouchers? Do you have a similar initiative where you live?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Rice, Leek & Spinach Pie
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 7 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 35 minutes plus 1 hour rising time for dough
Cooking time: 70 minutes
- 1 cup/200g/7ozs. white rice (I used basmati)
- 1.5 cups/375ml/12.7flozs. vegetable stock
- 30g/1oz butter
- 1-2 tablespoons oil
- 3 leeks (around 250g/8.8ozs), white part only sliced finely
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
- 500g/1.1lbs frozen spinach, thawed
- 1/2 cup currants or sultanas
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Sprig of thyme
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups/240g/8ozs shredded tasty or cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup/45g/1.6ozs. parmesan cheese
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 2.5 cups/375g/13ozs. plain all purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons instant dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup/250ml/8.8flozs milk
- 1/3 cup/75g/2.65ozs natural yogurt or sour cream
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter to brush on afterwards
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
Step 1 - Firstly cook the rice in the broth until cooked through (around 15 minutes using the stovetop absorption method). Then add butter and oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach, cooked rice, currants, chilli flakes, cumin, nutmeg and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or so until fragrant and tasty. You can do this part ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days. On the day you want to use it, mix the rice mixture with the beaten eggs, two cheeses and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 2 - For the pastry dough mix the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a mixer. In a jug measure the milk, yogurt or sour cream, egg, oil and salt. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix together with a spatula until starting to come together. Then add a kneading attachment to your mixer and knead the dough until elastic (around 5-6 minutes on the lowest speed). Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl and allow to rise until double in size. I actually prefer letting this rise, covered, in the fridge overnight where it can prove for up to 3 days as long as it is completely covered.
Cutting dough into 2/3 and 1/3 portions
Step 3 - When it is time to bake the pie, line the base and sides of a 20cm/8inch springform tin. Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to rest on the counter for 20 minutes or so. Cut the dough into two: one 2/3 of the total weight and the other 1/3. With the larger portion of dough, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. You want it to be able to fit the tin and the sides so roll it out quite large and thin. Transfer the dough to the lined tin and gently coax the dough against the sides of the tin and allow to rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime roll out the 1/3 portion of dough so that it will fit the top of the pie.
Making sure that the dough will fit the tin and sides
Filling the pie
Step 4 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Fill the pie with the rice mixture and then place the round of dough on top and crimp the edges and trim the dough with scissors (I use the leftover dough to make pizza-cook's treat!). Cut a hole in the centre of the pie so that steam can escape and bake the pie for 45 minutes. If the pie is starting to brown too much at the 30 minute mark, cover it with a sheet of foil. You want it to cook the whole time so that the dough cooks on the base and sides. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Serve this with your favourite marinara or tomato based sauce or by itself.
Cutting a hole on the top to let steam escape