Easy Spinach & Cheese Pie Recipe (Erbazzone): A Savory Italian Pie by Ann Marie Patitucci
Traditional erbazzone, locally known as scarpazzone, is a thin savory pie which consists of a filling of mixed cooked greens and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese inside a flaky crust. The crust, or fuiada, is traditionally made with lard, though olive oil is an acceptable alternative and is often used today.
Erbazzone originated in the Reggio-Emilia province, one of the nine provinces of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Originally, it was made to feed large crowds of hungry fieldworkers during the seasonal harvest. Now, though, erbazzone is appreciated far beyond its place of origin.
Erbazzone was traditionally served at lunch or as a snack, though a modern take is to serve it as an appetizer. As with all traditional recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, you’ll find many interpretations and recipes with varying ingredients. This version, for example, and does not include chard or lard.
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Prep time: 30 minutes plus 1 to 2 hours to rest dough
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 to 3 hours
Servings: 10 to 12
- 2 cups (about 8 ounces) Italian-style 00 flour (commonly used to make pasta and pizza dough)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Here’s how to make it:
- To make the dough, in a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add oil and 1/2 cup water and stir together using a fork until shaggy pieces of dough (lumpy yet well-mixed with no dry spots of flour) form. Turn out dough and any remaining flour in bowl onto a clean work surface, and press into a shaggy ball (cohesive but not smooth). Knead until mostly smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes. Dough should be slightly tacky; if sticking to hands, lightly dust with flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature from 1 to 2 hours (1 hour minimum).
- While the dough is resting, make the spinach filling. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack about 6 inches from heat source. Place spinach on a clean towel and squeeze firmly over kitchen sink, removing as much liquid as possible. Transfer spinach to a large bowl.
- Over medium-low heat, cook oil and garlic in a large skillet, swirling skillet occasionally, until garlic is sizzling and light golden on 1 side, about 6 minutes. Add spinach and cook, using tongs to pull apart spinach, until well coated in oil mixture and warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Return spinach mixture to large bowl. Remove garlic and toss. Stir Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta, eggs and salt into spinach mixture until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap dough and divide evenly into two portions. Roll one portion out on a floured work surface into a 14x10-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Trim and toss excess dough. Gently roll dough rectangle around rolling pin, and unroll onto prepared baking sheet.
- Spread spinach filling onto rectangle in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll remaining dough portion out into a 13x9-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Trim and toss excess dough. Gently roll dough around rolling pin, and unroll to drape over spinach filling. Using your fingers, lightly moisten edges of dough with water. Fold edges of bottom dough over top edges and press to seal. Using a fork, prick top of dough all over. Drizzle evenly with olive oil.
- Bake in preheated 450-degree F oven until crust is light golden, about 30 minutes. Adjust oven temperature to broil; do not remove pie from oven. Watching carefully, broil until charred in spots, about 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Cut pie lengthwise into four even strips. Cut each strip crosswise into six pieces.
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