Warm spinach and tuna pies are the ideal meal for when you need comfort food. A Maltese classic which never goes out of taste. Buttery dough filled with an abundant tangy mixture that is well known all over the islands.
Spinach and tuna, is a characteristic flavour combo of Malta, which you can either enjoy as a snack from your favourite corner pastizzerija, or as a huge family sized pie that makes the family meet and enjoy dinner together. If you’ve every been to Malta or in this case browsed around this blog, you now know that Maltese love their doughs and carbs. This results in having so many versions of pies and pastries that sometimes it’s really hard to keep track of!
Spinach and Tuna pies
These classic spinach and tuna pies, are one of the easiest pies you can make! Traditionally, although the pies don’t have a specific season, the pies are mostly made and served during Lent. The filling is done in a few minutes by adding all the ingredients to a well-heated pan and cook until most of the water from the spinach is absorbed and the mixture isn’t soggy.
In my recipe, I like to add anchovies as they give an extra tangy flavour to the mixture. However, they can be omitted. In addition, some Maltese like to incorporate peas in the mixture of their spinach and tuna pies, however, personally I’m not a big fan of that. I prefer my peas in a good ricotta pie!
Hand pies or a whole pie
As I have to eat these pies alone at home, I prefer making them into hand pies so that I can easily freeze the portions and not have to spend two days eating the same pie. However, if you want to make them as a whole dish pie, you can simply use this recipe. I would recommend a 25cm dish. The measurements in this recipe will give you a pie filled with a moderate amount of filling. However, if you want that inner goodness to be the highlight of the whole show, I recommend that you double up on the filling used here. If you do so, it will give you a rich and abundant pie.
Spinach and Tuna pies
- 500 g plain flour
- 250 g cold butter diced
- 150 ml cold water
- 1 tsp salt
- 200 g tuna 2 cans
- 800 g fresh spinach or 400g frozen spinach
- 1 small white onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 2 tbsp olives (green & kalamata) chopped
- 1 tbsp capers chopped
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 lemon juice
- salt & pepper to taste
- Egg wash – 1 egg + milk
- sesame seeds, nigella seeds, poppy seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.
- In a large bowl mix together the flour and salt.
- Add the cubed cold butter and work into the flour. You can either use a pastry cutter or work with your hands. If you're using your hands, you have to work fast so as not to melt the butter. Rub in all the butter in the flour until you have a coarse mixture with small pebbles of butter. This process can be also done in a food processor.
- Slowly start adding a tablespoon at a time of cold water, while forming a smooth dough. Your dough might require less or more water.
- Once the dough is ready, wrap into some cling film and store in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare your filling. *
- In a large pan heat the olive oil and add the diced onion. Let it cook for a few minutes until it starts getting translucent. Add the garlic and anchovy fillets and cook until they become paste like.
- Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- To this mixture add the tuna, dried mint and basil, lemon juice, olive and capers. Mix well and cook for a few minutes.
- Once it's almost done, add the fresh spinach**, let it wilt and cook until most of the excess water has vapoured. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let the mixture cool completely and drain from any excess juices.
- Mix the egg and milk together for the egg wash, set aside.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- On a floured surface open the pie dough into a large circle of about 5mm thickness. With a small plate or a medium sized cutter, cut 12cm circles.
- Place about 2 tbsps of the mixture in the middle of the circle. Make sure to leave space around the edges of the filling.
- With a pastry brush, paint the edges of the dough around the filling with the egg wash. This will help you achieve a secure closing of the pies. Fold over the other half of the dough and press the ends together around the filling with your finger. You can either leave them as such or else press them down further with a fork.
- Place the pies on the lined baking tray and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This step helps the dough to remain closed while baking, although no worries if some of the juices ooze out while baking.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C or 430°F.***
- Once ready to bake, brush the top and sides of the pies with the egg wash, and sprinkle with some seeds of your choice. I sprinkled some of mine with sesame and poppy seeds.
- Bake the pies for about 20 minutes or until they have a nice golden brown colour.
- Let the pies cool slightly before serving and enjoy!
- You can freeze these pies before or after cooking.
If you have any questions, feedback or comments on this recipe, please leave a comment below. Please also rate this recipe by double clicking on the stars below. If you did make this recipe, tag @apronandwhisk and hashtag #apronandwhisk, as I’m curious to see what you create!
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