Kale & Feta Pie w/Brown Rice Crust {Gluten-free}

This creation has a story.  It’s a rustic take on a Greek classic, spanakopita (or spinach pie for those who know it better by it’s English name), that my dearest mother and I came up with.  She, being the fabulous Greek that she is, is the master of spanakopitas.  And that’s even an understatement.  She doesn’t use recipes… she just picks things from her garden, throws them in a pan, and always, without fail, ends up with a magical plate of goodness.  For her pitas {as we call them- “pita” means “pie” in Greek}, she has been known to use every green vegetable on the planet- and it’s always delicious.  So while up at her place in Northern California recently, we put our heads together and came up with this.  I made a brown rice crust and she made the filling- it’s a handy option for those wanting a gluten-free pita (switching out the more traditional phyllo dough for a gluten-free pie crust).  As you may notice by the pictures, she’s a swift mover in the kitchen, so taking these pics was no easy feat.  {Maybe next time she guests on the blog, I’ll get her to slow down a wee, but likely not- this woman doesn’t ever slow down for good food.}
What’s great about this recipe is the freshness and the versatility.  The kale is fresh from her garden, as are the tomatoes and herbs.  {And she made the goat cheese herself… she gets fresh goat milk weekly from her friend’s goats and makes her own cheeses, yogurts, etc.  I so love that about her.}  So when she makes pitas, she literally just uses what she has around.  Sometimes it’s kale, sometimes spinach, sometimes chard or mustard greens… sometimes it’s a mix of them all!  Same with the herbs… she uses what she has.  And you can, too.  Throw in whatever greens you happen to have (well hang on there… whatever cookable greens you have- we will be having no lettuce in our pitas now).  And toss in whatever fresh herbs you have (in a reasonable sense of course).  With the cheeses, definitely use feta- that one’s a must, but the others can vary.  Ricotta, cottage cheese, farm cheese- any soft cheese like that will work.  Get creative, explore. :)
Now to the crust… there’s a story here, too, but it doesn’t take as many words.  Simply put, I found this recipe on Google, liked how simple it looked (I’m all for the whole ‘less is more’ approach in the kitchen), and went for it.  I found the recipe on The Chaotic Kitchen’s site (click the link to see it).  I used just what she said to use, but as Natalie typically does, found my own ways to carryout the procedures (pretty sure I just talked about myself in third person- eeek.).  Rather than rolling out the dough and then transferring it, I decided to take a quick shortcut and just shape it directly in the pie pan with my hands.  Worked like a charm.  It’s a great recipe for a gluten-free crust, to thanks to Chaotic Kitchen for this one!  It’s rather flaky and dry, but in a good way… especially for a rustic pie.  And it could be used for both sweet and savory pies- I can’t wait to make it again for a berry or apple pie!
for the pie crust…
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 tsp cold water
for the pie filling…
8 cups kale (mix and match if you’d like- spinach, chard, etc.)
2/3 cup fresh herbs (mix of basil, thyme, oregano, & tarragon) 
1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (to taste)
olive oil, 1-2 tbsp for sauteing
2 eggs
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh cheese, such as homemade goat cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta

for garnish…
sliced tomatoes
sprinkle of feta cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
For the crust…
Mix together brown rice flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl
Stir in egg (beaten first)
Then add butter pieces
Using a fork, press the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together to combine them
Keep mixing until you have powdery dough forming…. it will be dry, but it should stick together when you squeeze it (if for some reason it is not, add a little more butter if you’d like)
This is where I created shortcuts…
Rather than rolling out the dough and then transferring it to the pie pan, I decided to just dump the dough mix directly into the pie pan and then flatten it in there (who doesn’t love time-saving tricks!?)
Using your fingers (our hands are our best tools!), press the dough into the pan- there’s no need to have the pie pan greased first… the dough has enough butter to not stick :)
Mold an edging around the side of the pie pan to create a clean border for the crust (there will likely not be enough dough to fold over, but that will depend on how thin you spread the dough)
Bake the crust in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until very lightly golden brown
Okay, you now have a pie crust ready to be filled!  
For the filling…
Keep oven to 350 degrees
Begin prepping kale- remove any thick stems
Then given it a rough chop
You should have about 8 cups… regardless of what greens you are using
In a large pan, heat olive oil over a low-medium heat
Add kale leaves and fresh herbs
Stir in salt and pepper, to taste
Since kale takes a while to cook, you want to leave the temperature fairly low and let it cook for about 30-40 minutes, until is is soft (taste it as you go and adjust the time as needed)
Meanwhile, begin prepping your cheeses…
This is some super tasty feta my mom had and her homemade goat cheese- it’s very soft, ricotta-like
Crumble the cheeses and add them to a bowl
Stir in eggs and mix well, but caution- don’t over mix!  The key to a nice “pita” filling is to have some chunks of cheese in there ;)
When the kale is ready, let it cool a bit and then stir in the cheese and egg mixture
Fill the pie crust with the filling
Top the filling with some tomato slices
Then sprinkle some feta over the top
Now you’re ready to bake!
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, uncovered

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About Me

Hi, I'm Natalie! I like to cook, eat, and adventure. I live in a little home with an itty-bitty kitchen, a crazy feline, and a very hungry boyfriend. Lots of cooking and devouring goes down here. Farmer's markets inspire me, as do the seasons and travel. I create simple recipes using wholesome real food. Enjoy!

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