Friday, June 22, 2012

Rice, Cheddar, and Spinach Pie

I haven't posted many recipes here lately - too busy sketching, I guess! But that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. Here's a recipe I tried a couple of months ago and have made several times since. I'm not a big meat eater, so this vegetarian Rice, Cheddar and Spinach Pie recipe is just my style.

Rice, Cheddar, and Spinach Pie made with white rice
This time I used a long grain, brown, and wild rice blend

The recipe is very adaptable - add more cheese, or substitute white rice for brown, add bacon or sausage, or throw in an extra clove of garlic or two. It always tastes great.

And it's fine for leftovers, too. Cut the leftover pie into 1/2" slices and sauté them in a frying pan. The cheese gets all melty and oozy with a crisp lightly browned crust. Yummy! I even eat it for breakfast.

Sauteed slices of leftover spinach pie

Rice, Cheddar, and Spinach Pie

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups cooked brown rice (could use instant or quick-cooking)
1 to 1½ cups diced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. salt (¼ tsp is sufficient, if rice is salted)
4 large eggs
¼ cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a 9” pie pan with cooking spray.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and spinach; cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl. Add rice, cheese, pepper and salt to the bowl and stir to combine.
3. Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Stir into the spinach-rice mixture. Transfer to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
4. Bake the pie until lightly browned in spots, about 25 minutes.
5. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Recipe Notes:
- This makes a great appetizer when it's baked in mini muffin pans.
- The original recipe called for three cloves of garlic, but the fresh garlic I've been using lately is super strong, so I only used one clove, and the pie still had a mild garlic flavor. I didn't want the garlic to overpower the cheese.
- The original recipe called for only 1 cup of cheddar cheese. If you're using extra-sharp, that seems to be enough, but when I made it with regular sharp cheddar, I felt that it would have benefited from adding another ½ cup of cheese.
- The last time I made this, I added some crumbled cooked sweet Italian sausage to it, and it was tasty. I might try crumbled bacon sometime, too.
- Feta cheese would be an interesting substitute for cheddar.
- Next time I make it, I think I'll sprinkle a dash of nutmeg into the mix, and add a topping of fresh chopped tomatoes. 

Rice, Cheddar, and Spinach Pie with wild rice blend

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