Pie-a-Day #10: Daniel Mattern’s Wild Spinach Pocket Pie

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Daniel Mattern is the Executive Chef at Ammo Cafe.


I like to call these treats “pocket pies” because you can almost fit them in your pocket, they are still very good if eaten at room temperature, and you don’t need a fork and a plate to eat them – although a couple of napkins are advisable.

To make these pies, I usually look for scraps of cream cheese dough from the pastry station that would otherwise go to waste. The filling is made with one of the coolest ingredients from the farmers market: wild spinach.

Wild spinach or Chenopodium album is Indian in origin. In America it’s considered a pest, a weed that grows on the outskirts of plowed farmland but in many European countries, were it’s also known as “lambsquarters” or “goosefoot” it is harvested and used in cooking. Fortunately, wild spinach is available at farmers markets in Southern California all year long.


Wild Spinach Pocket Pie
Yields about six pocket pies

For the pie dough:
7 oz cream cheese, cold, cut into one-inch chunks
7 oz unsalted butter, cold, cut into one-inch chunks
7 oz pastry flour, sifted
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the filling:
3 Tablespoons golden raisins
6 Tablespoons pine nuts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Pinch of chili flakes
6 cups wild spinach, washed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan
6 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2″ cubes
Kosher salt to taste
1 egg, beaten

Start by making the pie dough.

In the electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, pastry flour and salt, and mix at low speed until they come together in a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

Place the golden raisins in a bowl. Cover them with boiling water and let them sit until they look plump, about 20 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Scatter the pine nuts on a cookie sheet and toast until very light brown, about 7 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over a low flame and add the olive oil and butter. Add the shallots, garlic and chili flakes and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes – wild spinach takes a little bit longer to cook than regular spinach. Season to taste. Toss in the plumped raisins and the toasted pine nuts. Transfer to a separate bowl and let cool. Mix the parmesan and mozzarella into the cooled mixture.

When ready to shape the pie pockets, flour a working surface generously and stretch the dough into a circle using a rolling pin. When the dough is about 1/8-inch thick, cut six dough circles about 7 inches in diameter. Brush the edges lightly with a wet brush, place 1/2 cup of filling in the center of each circle and fold them in half like you would a turnover. To seal the pocket, pinch the edges together with a fork. Refrigerate the shaped pies for about 1 hour.

Right before baking them, brush the pocket pies with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes or until nice and golden. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Eat while still warmish or at room temperature.