Aired December 11, 2008
A knob of butter
3 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
12 ounces spinach (you can also use nettles, Swiss chard or borage), washed, thick stems removed
A few sprigs of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups crme fraiche
5 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
3 large free-range or organic eggs
7 ounces smoked ham, torn into shreds or chopped
First, make your pastry dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and rest it in the fridge for at least half an hour. Dust a clean work surface with flour, get the pastry out and roll it with a floured rolling pin into a rectangular shape about 1/4 inch thick and big enough to line a shallow, 11x15" baking pan.
Grease the pan with butter and line it with the pastry. Trim any excess off the edges of the pan, leaving a half-inch overhang. Pinch this overhanging dough up to give a little rim. This not only gives it a rustic edge but also stops the pastry from shrinking and it means theres no need to fill the pastry case with beans or rice before baking it blind. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and chill in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the pan from the fridge and bake your pastry crust in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until lightly golden. (This is called baking it blind, and it stops the pastry from going soggy when you add the filling.) Next, heat a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onions on a low heat for 10 minutes until they're soft and sweet, but don't let them color. Turn up the heat, add the garlic, the spinach (in batches if your pan isn't big enough) and most of the marjoram. Season lightly and give it a good stir. Take the pan off the heat when the spinach has wilted this will only take a couple of minutes.
To make the filling mixture, put the crme fraiche into a bowl, stir in the Parmesan, eggs and a pinch of salt and pepper, mix together and set aside. Now spread the spinach mixture over your pastry case. Sprinkle over the ham, and spoon the mixture evenly over the top, smoothing it out with the back of the spoon. Grate over a generous helping of Parmesan, sprinkle over the rest of the marjoram and drizzle with some olive oil.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling and the filling has set. Lovely served with a little salad of watercress, dressed with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.