This Italian spinach ricotta pie is a luscious healthy tart where ricotta cheese is used instead of cream. The savory spinach filling is mixed with caramelized butternut squash to add a slightly sweet fluffy texture without the extra fat. The pie crust is made with pasta frolla, an Italian short-crust pastry. All these ingredients together make the lightest and most delicious hearty Autumn meal.
This Italian spinach pie recipe is a perfect backup meal to make ahead.
All the ingredients can be prepared beforehand, and the pie baked at the last minute.
I usually prepare all the different ingredients on Sunday morning before we go for walks or work in the garden.
When we are back and ready for dinner, I just assemble and bake it.
It can also be a backup dish for a dinner party; the crust is nice, crunchy, easily removed from the baking pan, and presented in a fancy serving dish.
The creamy low-fat ricotta cheese softens the tang from the spinach, while the roasted bacon and the caramelized butternut squash add a comforting savory-sweet taste to each bite.
Even the colors of this pie bring warmth to a cold Autumn day, which this year has not been cold at all.
Spinach and ricotta are often used together in Italian recipes like the malfatti gnudi gnocchi recipe.
For more Italian-style pie recipes, you can check: Beef Pie With Marsala Sauce And Mushrooms, Chicken and Mushroom Pie Recipe, Chelsea Market Heidi Pie With French Chevre, Zucchini Mushroom Quiche Recipe, Beef Sausage Hand Pie Recipe.
Ingredients for the filling
- Butternut squash: you need a small squash or just half of a medium size. You can replace it with pumpkin or sweet potatoes. As I find it hard to peel it, I cut it into large chunks and peel it once the squash is cooked. It is so much easier.
- Garlic and Provencal herbs: I use them to caramelize the butternut squash; they add depth to the squash's sweetness
- Olive oil to make it crisp
Frozen vs fresh spinach
In this recipe, I use frozen spinach; I always keep a bag in the freezer.
I found spinach one of the few vegetables that freeze well, and I hate rinsing fresh spinach.
They are always full of sand that takes forever to remove as it goes inside the hollow stem.
Especially in Autumn, I don't fancy keeping my hands in cold water for ages.
Once cooked, you are left with hardly half a cup after washing all the spinach.
You can use fresh spinach if you still wish.
You do not need to cook fresh spinach; you can add them at the last minute.
However, ensure they do not release too much water; otherwise, the crust will get soggy.
If you use frozen spinach, ensure all the ice evaporates, and remove all excess water.
Crispy bacon and cheese
- Crispy bacon: I like to crisp the bacon with the onion before adding it to the quiche.
- Red onion has a sweeter flavor, and its purple color adds a nice effect to the spinach's green and the butternut squash's orange. Although, you can use a regular onion as well.
- Butter gives a nutty flavor to the spinach.
- Ricotta: is added at the end once the squash and the spinach are at room temperature. You can use any type of ricotta: cow, goat or sheep's milk. Ricotta made with cow's milk, has a milder flavor.
- Parmesan cheese adds a nutty flavor and a cheesy consistency to the quiche. You can also use gruyere cheese instead
- Large eggs: the eggs hold the filling together
For a healthier or vegetarian quiche, you can omit the bacon and/or the Parmesan cheese
Ingredient for the pasta frolla
I always make the shortcrust pastry from scratch, but you can buy the prepared one if you don't have time.
You can also use puff pastry.
The ingredients are:
- butter at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoon of water: the water makes the dough smoother and easier to roll
Note: If you want to have a top crust, double the amount
Quantities are in the recipe card
Pasta frolla can be sweet or savory. To find out more, you can read the recipe: savory and sweet pasta frolla
Preparing the filling
First, caramelize the butternut squash
- Cut the butternut squash into chunks and season with Provencal herbs and salt, plenty of garlic, and olive oil to crisp it.
- Cook in the oven 390 F - 200 C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown
- Let it cool down, and remove the skin
- Separately stir-fry the onion and the bacon with butter. Once crispy, add the spinach and make sure all the water drys out. Season with salt.
- Combine the spinach mixture with the squash in a large bowl and let them cool to room temperature.
- Once cold, add to the spinach squash mixture the ricotta cheese, the eggs, and the Parmesan cheese
Making the pastry base
This is enough for a 9 ½ in - 24 cm pie plate. I use a pan with a removable bottom to remove it from the pan and serve it in a proper serving dish.
Butter and cover the bottom of the baking tin with removable bottom with baking paper.
Hint: you can also use a nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix all ingredients in the mixer.
- Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the butter re-solidifies.
- Over a lightly floured surface, roll into the size of the pan plus the sides
- Lay the short pastry over the pan and pierce it with a fork so it will not rise while cooking. Remove the excess dough
- Put it back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes while the oven is warming up to 355 F - 180C temperature
Making the quiche
- Take the pastry out of the fridge
- Add the filling inside the cold pastry and spread it uniformly
- Bake for 35 minutes in a hot oven at 355 F - 180 C
- Let it rest for 10 minutes before removing it from the baking pan and serving it
Top tips for a crispy base
- Make sure the spinach does not retain any water. Especially if you are using frozen spinach, let all the water evaporate.
- Keep the short pastry in the fridge until you can fill it and bake it. The cold butter in the pastry will prevent the crust from going soggy.
- Pierce the pastry with a fork, so it doesn't rise while baking
- You do not need to prebake your pastry; make sure the oven is hot at 355 F - 180 C when you bake the pie
This pie is a hearty supper with plenty of vegetables, proteins, and carbs.
I serve a simple, fresh green salad seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and salt as a side dish if we have it for a family dinner.
If the boys are very hungry, I make these easy-bake microwave potatoes, it only takes 30 minutes, and they bake with the pie.
If I have vegetarian guests, and make this pie for a formal dinner party; I just leave out the bacon.
For the non-vegetarian, this spinach quiche is a rich side dish, so I keep the meat serving very light.
Delicious and gorgeous, this caramelized butternut squash and ricotta spinach bacon torta salata is difficult to resist!
Vegetables with a long shelf life
What I like about this recipe is that all the vegetables have a long shelf life, I can store them for weeks and can make this pie anytime.
In Autumn, I often buy a butternut squash and keep it as a backup in the pantry where I store my onions. I can always count on a frozen bag of spinach in my freezer.
If I don't have any fresh vegetables left in the fridge and I don't have time to go to the Supermarket, I make this quiche and have a delicious, healthy, and perfectly balanced meal full of veggies.
To find out more about how I plan my weekly meals, you can read the article: A Family Meal Planner Based On Fresh Vegetables
This pie is even better the next day as the flavors blend together.
It is also good cold at room temperature
Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days
If you need a light meal to serve to vegetarian guests, you can leave out the bacon without compromising its complex flavor.
Its beautiful color combination and delicate flavor will delight your guests' eyes and palates.
If you wish you can replace the squash with mushrooms or sweet potatoes.
You can use a store-bought shortcrust or puff pastry.
Why ricotta is healthier
Ricotta is a cheese made by re-cooking (ri-cotta in Italian) the whey serum left over after the milk has been curdled to make cheese.
Therefore ricotta is a cheese with low-fat content. Usually made from cow's milk, it can also be made from sheep or goat's milk.
More recipes with squash you may like
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📋 Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie With Caramelized Squash
For the caramelized butternut squash
For the filling
Caramelized butternut squash
- Cut the butternut squash into chunks.1 small butternuts squash or half medium
- Season with the provencal herbs, salt, and coat with olive oil. Spread on an oven tray with the crushed garlic cloves1 tablespoon Provencal herbs, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt
- Cook in the oven at 390 F - 200 C for 40 minutes until it caramelizes
- Let it cool down and remove the skin
- Stir-fry a chopped onion, the bacon and once they are brown1 onion, 6 oz smoked bacon, 2 tablespoon butter
- Add the spinach still frozen and season with salt14 oz frozen spinach, 1 teaspoon salt
- Stir until the spinaches are completely defrosted and the extra water dried
- Let it cool down
- Once the spinach and the butternut squash are at room temperature, mix them with the ricotta, the eggs, and the Gruyere cheese9 oz ricotta, 3 fresh eggs, 5 oz Gruyere cheese
Make the short pastry
- Mix all ingredients for the pastry in the mixer.½ cup butter, 1 ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoon fresh water
- Wrap the dough with cling foil and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the butter re-solidifies.
Lay the pastry into the pan
- Roll to the size of the baking pan plus the edges
- Butter and cover the bottom of the baking tin with removable bottom with baking paper
- Lay the short pastry over the pan, adjust the edges and pierce it with a fork so it will not raise while cooking
Assemble the quiche and bake
- Put the pan and with the pastry back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes while the oven is warming up to 350 F - 180C temperature
- Add the filling and bake for 35 minutes
- Let it rest for 10 minutes before transferring it to a serving dish
- Serve and enjoy