Alt Spanikopita: Kale Pie with Onion & Preserved Lemon

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Having fiddled with phyllo to make those beloved butter-brushed triangles of spinach-and-feta-stuffed spanikopita, I can say with no hesitation: I’d much rather put everything in a pie crust. Since we’ve got a garden full of fresh kale, it seemed smart to keep rolling with the variation and swap in kale for the spinach. This lemony kale & onion pie–spiced with a bit of dijon mustard and enriched with French feta, is the result. Since I’ve got preserved Meyer lemon handy, I used that in the filling, but, the recipe works fine with just fresh lemon juice, too.

Makes 1, 9-inch, deep dish pie

Double-Crust Pie Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I like Maldon flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup ice-cold butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 to 5 Tbsp cold cream or evaporated milk

Kale, Onion, French-Feta Filling Ingredients

  • 3 large bunches lacinato kale, washed, dried, ribs removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces to make 10 cups
  • 2 large onions, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil plus 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp French dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • juice of one fresh lemon OR 2 tsp finely-diced preserved lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Wondra flour
  • 1 cup crumbled French feta cheese
  • scant amount of salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste



  1. Make double pie crust: Measure flour, salt, pepper and sugar into a wide shallow bowl. Using two knives, cut in butter until size of small peas; using fingertips, lightly break up a bit more until like damp sand. Stir in cream (or evaporated milk). Spread countertop with two foot square of plastic wrap (two sheets, slightly overlapping), scrape pie crust bits onto plastic. Pull plastic wrap corners up and around the pastry and squeeze to make it into a ball. Flatten ball. Cut ball in half. Spread counter with another square of plastic wrap. Place one of the balls on the plastic; cover with another square of plastic. Using a rolling pin, roll out. You will now have an 11-inch diameter pie crust flattened between two layers of plastic. Lift plastic wrapped flattened dough off the counter and onto a round pizza pan or cookie sheet and refrigerate. Repeat process for the second ball of dough. Refrigerate both crusts while you make the filling
  2. Make filling: In a heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan, melt butter with oil and saute onion until soft and transparent. Add kale in batches (as much as you can fit in the pan) until all is in the pan and the kale has softened and cooked down a bit–about five minutes. Stir in mustard. Sprinkle with Wondra flour. Add vegetable broth and either lemon juice or preserved lemon and stir/saute for another five minutes. Stir in crumbled cheese. Set aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Note: Preserved lemon is salty, so if using, you will probably not need to add any salt.
  3. Assemble pie: Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator. Roll one of them out a bit on counter top (still between the plastic layers) to soften. Remove top layer of plastic wrap and invert pie crust over pie plate. Ease into the pie plate, removing the bottom layer of plastic wrap. Prick the bottom edge of the pie crust to ensure there are no air bubbles. Fill crust with filling. Slightly roll out remaining pie crust, remove top layer of plastic wrap, invert crust over the top of the pie, removing the remaining plastic wrap. Tuck top crust edge into bottom crust edge; fold edge over all the way around and crimp with your fingers to make a decorative edge. Cut three small slits in the top of the pie to allow it to vent while you bake.
  4. Bake pie: Preheat oven to 400. Bake pie for 10 minutes in center of oven at 400. Decrease temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 35 minutes. Remove baked pie to a cooling rack. Allow pie to “set up” and cool for about 15 minutes. Serve.


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