This is actually a mash-up of two different Donna Hay recipes: Spinach Pie from The Instant Cook, and Spinach and Ricotta Baked Pasta from Off the Shelf. It is sort-of like spanakopita, without the phyllo, or a crustless quiche. With some salad on the side, it makes a nice light lunch.
The results reminded me very much of my mother’s dairy spinach kugel, which is a good thing. My mother’s recipe (which I am also including) uses farmer’s cheese and sauteed onions and mushrooms.
This recipe is a little easier because you skip the sauteed onions (but adding them could only make this even better). Putting the halved grape tomatoes on top is not only pretty, but adds a lot to the flavor as the acidity of the tomatoes cut through the creaminess of the dish. Serve this with a salad on the side. If you don’t want to add the tomatoes to the top of the dish, trying serving it with a tomato salad on the side.
Dairy Spinach Kugel
12 ounces spinach, drained and squeezed very dry
1 1/2 lbs. ricotta
10 ounces sour cream (I only had about 9 ounces, so I supplemented with an ounce of homemade ranch dressing)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I think I added much less, but I didn’t measure)
2 Tbl. fresh dill (I used about 1 Tbl. dried dill)
(optional: the little bit of Ranch Dressing I used added a nice hit of garlic; The Cookbook Critic used 3 cloves garlic, sauteed)
halved grape tomatoes, enough to cover top of casserole (maybe a cup)
Combine everything except the grape tomatoes and pour into a buttered casserole. Top with the tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes, or until set on top.
Note: If you want to make the pasta version (Spinach and Ricotta Baked Pasta), cook a pound of rigatoni and layer it on the bottom of the pan (you could mix half the spinach mixture into the pasta to make it less dry).
If you want to make the feta version (Spinach Pie), use 1 lb. spinach, 2 lbs. ricotta, and 5 eggs. Leave out the Parmesan and the sour cream from the spinach mixture and top the mixture with 5 ounces of crumbled feta along with the tomatoes.
My Mother’s Dairy Spinach Kugel
Adapted from a recipe by Sylvia Berger. Makes one 8″ square pan, or a 9″ quiche baked in a pie crust. If you triple the recipe (which my mom does), use a two pound bag of the Bodek spinach.
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted,drained VERY well (really squeeze dry) [16 ounces okay too]
8 ounces farmer’s cheese
2 medium onions, chopped
4-8 Tbl. butter
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced [10 ounces ok too]
9″ pie crust, optional (Mom hasn’t used the pie crust option in over twenty years . . . .)
Parmesan cheese, to taste, optional
Saute the onions until golden.Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Combine the frozen spinach, eggs, farmer’s cheese and salt and pepper. Mix in the onions and mushrooms. Pour the mixture into a greased 8″ square pan or a 9″ pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until firm in the center.