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Chicken and Spinach Pie

Chicken and Spinach Pie

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Makes 1 pie.
By Dennis W. Viau; inspired by a recipe in The Renaissance of Italian Cooking by Lorenza de’Medici

Chicken and Spinach Pie looks fantastic, like you were cooking all day, but you almost can’t go wrong. If your first thought at seeing the word pie was I can’t make pie crust, don’t turn away. You make this pie crust with phyllo dough sheets, available frozen in grocery stores. There is no mixing, no kneading, no rolling, and no hoping. The crust comes out perfectly flaky every time. I’ve used this method many times for making other savory pies.


1 15-ounce (425g) container of ricotta cheese
10 to 12 (280g to 340g) ounces fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic; minced or crushed through a garlic press
1 large chicken breast (about 10 ounces/300g); cubed
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 package (1 pound/454g) phyllo dough (sometimes seen as fillo for filo); thawed
¾ cup (175ml) clarified butter; melted
¼ pound (115g) sliced prosciutto; cut into small pieces
¼ cup (1 ounce/30g) grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste


If the ricotta seems wet, spread on paper towels and press with more towels to absorb moisture. Set aside. You can toast the pine nuts in a skillet, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Wash the spinach, remove and discard the stems. Put about ¼ cup water in a large cooking pot and bring to a boil. Place the leaves in the pot, cover, and cook about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and allow to cool until comfortable to handle. Using your hands (or a potato ricer), press out the excess liquid and then chop the spinach into 1-inch sections.

Place the garlic and chicken in a skillet with the one tablespoon of butter or olive oil and sauté over medium heat until just cooked. Do not brown. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cooked chicken, spinach, (optional pine nuts), prosciutto, Parmesan (or Romano) cheese, nutmeg, one egg, salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon or your hands. Set aside.

Make the top crust first. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface and, using a pastry brush, carefully brush the surface lightly with melted clarified butter. Place another sheet on top, position it at a different angle to cross the grains, and brush again with butter. Continue layering phyllo dough until half the package is used. Do not butter the top layer. Press the springform pan ring onto the dough to make an impression. Trim to this line. Wrap this crust in plastic so that it won’t dry out. Set aside.

Assemble the bottom crust the same way as above, but do not trim. Carefully place the layered pastry into a greased 9-inch (24cm) springform pan, evenly arranging the excess along the sides. Spoon the filling mixture into the pastry shell, leveling the top. Heat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

Place the top crust on the pie and trim the edges of the bottom crust to within an inch (2.5cm) of the top of the pan. Beat the remaining egg and brush lightly onto the edges of the crust. Fold over the edges to seal around the top. Brush the entire top surface with beaten egg. Bake about 1 hour. Serve hot, removing from the pan before cutting.