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11 August 2013

Spiral Vegetable Ricotta Pie

The first time I saw a vegetable spiral pie, I got stuck to my computer screen for a full minute before I took my eyes off it. It was so beautiful! The next thing that came to my mind was: It should have been difficult to do seeing all those swirls of thinly-sliced vegetables all lined up like soldiers standing in attention. Then the next thought: It should take a lot of patience to do that. I don't have a problem with that because eversince I was a kid, I can be lost in my own world creating little artsy projects that sometimes I would forget about food & sleep. And the last thought: It's involves baking and it does look difficult. No, I can't do it! I left it like that. I didn't give it another thought again. 

Until I was watching one of my favorite Italian chefs demonstrating some pie recipes. She did this spiral vegetable pie. I paid attention and realized that it wasn't that hard after all. She was promoting a kind of cheese in making it and since it's the kind that's hard to find outside Italy, I decided on ricotta because watching the show was apropos to what I had been planning that day. To make a vegetable gratin for a non-Italian client who asked me to create one for a menu he is planning.

I based almost the same method the chef did but after I pulled out the pie from the oven, I would suggest some changes to make it better after my husband and I tried it. The recipe I wrote below is already the one with the suggestions so the next time I do this, I would know what to do. Trial and error always counts when doing anything. 

About the cooking time. The chef baked it at 180°C (356°F) for about 50 minutes. I did too but my husband and I think that the vegetables need a little bit more cooking time thus, in the recipe below, I wrote that after 50 minutes, take it out of the oven. If the color of the crust is already perfect and you think that the veggies still need a bit more cooking, cover it with an aluminum foil so that you don't burn it, put it back in the oven and cook it for another 10 minutes. 

About the nutmeg. I like nutmeg, my husband cannot stand it. Since he was going to be the one eating most of the pie (if you know me well from my blog, I cannot tolerate ricotta so much), I didn't put it. After trying a slice and analyzing the flavors, I thought it needed another flavor that can complement the ricotta and vegetables. Nutmeg came to my mind. You can give it a try.

Oiling the vegetables. Since the chef didn't drizzle the pie with oil, I didn't too even if I had been thinking about doing it. After I took it out, the first thing that my husband and I said was one thing. I should have drizzled the top with oil. It would be better if you brush the top of the vegetables with oil so the it will be equally distributed.

When you make your own pie, you will definitely find your own way like I did. This is one beautiful pie to serve when you have guests, not as difficult as you think (just requires patience) and is genuinely delicious! Have fun cooking!

Spiral Vegetable Ricotta Pie

Makes a 22 cm. pie
  • 350 grams ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 70 grams Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated (optional)
  • 1 store-bought round puff pastry dough
  • 2 zucchini, sliced thinly & lengthwise
  • 2 - 3 carrots, peeled, sliced thinly & lengthwise
  • 1 medium aubergine, sliced thinly & lengthwise
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Mix the ricotta, eggs, 50 grams Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg (if using), salt & pepper in a bowl
  2. Unroll the puff pastry dough on a greased baking pan.
  3. Pour the ricotta mixture on the dough.
  4. Make sure that the vegetable slices are of similar height before starting to put them in the pie.
  5. Starting from the outer edge, line the pie with the vegetables, one kind per line. Alternate with the other vegetables until you reach the central part.
  6. Once the pie is finished, drizzle or brush the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano.
  7. Bake in a pre heated oven of 180 degrees C for 1 hour in the middle rack. If you see that the pie is already brown before 1 hour, take it out of the oven, cover it with an aluminum foil and finish cooking it until the hour ends.