CARB WARNING! You’re about to enter the “Swedish Carb Zone”. The following pie recipe is not approved for Paleo, Whole30, Atkins or any other weight loss diet. Nutritional information will be included in the recipe for those who dare to read it.
OK, so you’re willing to enter the “Swedish Carb Zone” and you’re wondering what the heck is Färskpotatispaj med Spenat? Well, simply stated it’s “New (fresh) Potato Pie with Spinach”. But it’s much more than the name implies. Truly, this is a gloriously luscious and decadent savory side dish. So, come on in and see how easy it is to make.
A little about the concept of savory pies. If you search Wikipedia for “savoury pies“, your find there are about ninety recipes from all over the globe pertaining to savory (or savoury for our Queen’s English readers) pies. There are savory pies made with just about any food group available. Oh, and yes guys, Quiche is a savory pie and I hope we’re over that “real men don’t eat quiche” thing.
Here in Sweden, folks love savory pies of all types. If you go to just about any Swedish deli or local food store you’ll find a salmon or ham mini-pie cooked and ready to eat. In the frozen section, you’ll find up to 13 diverse types of Felix Paj and that’s just one of the makers of frozen pies. So, as you can see, we enjoy our savory (and sweet) pies here.
In our last post, Blekinge Holiday Adventure – Tranquility, Fishing, Food & Friends, we promised to show you how much fun it is to make this potato pie step by step. The recipe comes courtesy of “Mat magasinet” (Food magazine) writer Janet Gustavsson from their 7/17 issue.
Let’s go to pie making!
You’ll need about ten ingredients to put this pie together. First, there are two very special ingredients used, fresh potatoes or new potatoes (as they are called in North America) and Västerbotten cheese.
Potatoes first came to Sweden in 1655, but it wasn’t until the mid-1700’s that they were widely planted, harvested and eaten. The Swedes being a fugal lot, discovered that not only were potatoes good on their own, but that they made a hearty vodka. And as they say, “the rest is history” or Absolut! Potatoes are a mainstay starch here and for a Swede to think of mid-sommar without potatoes would be like an American thinking of the 4th of July without BBQ.
Not to worry though, for the Swedish fresh potato you can substitute any new red or yellow type potato and it should work just fine. However, I’d steer away from using a russet potato in this recipe. You want a firm waxy type of potato. We like to use the potatoes that are about the size of a lime. This makes nice bite size pieces in the pie.
As for the Västerbotten cheese, it’s considered the king of cow milk cheeses in Sweden. Västerbotten was available in North America until 2016, when production ceased. It seems the USDA disagreed with the Västerbotten manufacturing process that had been used in the US since 1947 and Sweden since 1872. Västerbotten, unwilling to change the century old process ceased production. Västerbotten still uses that forbidden USDA process here in Sweden and there’s no record of any food issues. For more on Västerbotten cheese you can go here for their English site. If you ever have a chance to taste Västerbotten, we think you’ll fall in love with it as well.
Now, since Västerbotten cheese is no longer available in the USA, a proper candidate there needs to be discovered. We’re pretty sure Gruyère would work well in this pie, but also in for consideration would be a sharp cheddar cheese like Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar or Boar’s Head Canadian Cheddar. Just keep in mind that Västerbotten is aged for three (yes 3) years. Heck, if you’re on a budget try Colby Jack or any other cheese that melts. But stay away from highly processed cheeses.
Let’s get prepping.
There’s about half an hour or so of prep work to do prior to assembling the pie.
As for peeling the potatoes, it’s all personal in my opinion, we went for unpeeled. But if you wish, peel away. Then cook the potatoes until they are just done. Let the potatoes cool completely prior to slicing for this recipe. Cook them the day before if you like. However, don’t overcook as they will fall apart when you slice them.
TIP: When slicing the cooked potatoes, I find my serrated bread knife works well, but any sharp knife will work. Also, as you cut the potatoes, starch from the potato builds up on the blade. Wiping the blade clean with a wet towel after cutting a potato or two helps in getting nicely sliced whole pieces.
While the potatoes are cooking, slice your leek. Heat the olive oil until shimmering and sauté the leeks and the spinach (or rocket) mixture until they soften, then add salt and pepper to taste.
You’ll also need to “blind bake” the pie crust. Now the actual process will vary from country to country and crust maker to crust maker. Be sure to read and use the pie crust maker’s instructions. If you’re not familiar with “blind baking” a North America refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury, here is a great post on how to do it from Martha over at A Family Feast. “A Family Feast” is a great food blog, check it out.
Here in Sweden, a premade pie crust is a bit softer than the North American variety. So, for my Swedish readers, if you’ve never used a refrigerated pie crust (like from ICA) you’ll need to make a foil cover/prop. The aluminum foil cover/prop is placed from the inside of the pan side, up and over the top edge of the pie dough in the pie pan. This cover/prop is used to keep the pie crust in place by preventing the pie dough from slumping during the baking process. I learned about this the hard way. The first Swedish premade pie crust I “blind baked” was a disaster. It looked more like a pizza than a “blind baked” pie crust. It’s my suspicion that the Swedish pie crust has a bit more butter in it than a Pillsbury crust, which causes our pie crust to slump when baked (and makes it yummy). Once covered and propped, we “blind bake” the pie crust in a 200°C (392°F) preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until light brown.
In all countries, once the pie crust is lightly browned, remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Leave the oven on, as you’ll soon need it.
The rest of the prep is easy peasy. Just grate your chosen cheese, mix the cream and egg mixture and wash and spin dry your greens (if needed). For the greens, we use store bought pre washed that comes in a bag.
Let’s put the pie together “step by step”.
Place a layer of the cooked and sliced new potatoes on the bottom of a “blind baked” pie crust.
Once you get half of those sliced little potatoes in place, spread half of the sautéed leek and spinach (or rocket) mixture.
Now, pour half of the egg and cream mixture over the potatoes and leek mixture. Give the pan a little shake to allow the mixture to flow in between the potatoes. You’re ready for the second layer.
Place the remaining potatoes in a layer and put the leek mixture over the first layer (as before).
Finish this layer by pouring the remainder of the egg and cream mixture over the pie. Let’s give it another shake or two. The pie is ready to be cheesed!
Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and you’re ready to bake the pie. Place in the preheated 200°C (392°F) oven for 35 – 45 minutes or until the center of the pie is set.
TIP: To prevent over browning of the crust’s edge, make a cover from aluminium (aluminum for my North American friends) foil. Just rip off a piece, an arm’s length or so and fold it horizontally 4-5 times. You should end up with a piece of folded foil that you can then wrap and fold around the crust. After your pie crust is “blind baked” and cooled, do a test fitting to assure it’ll work to cover the edge of the crust. This cover should be placed over the exposed pie crust about 20 minutes into the baking time. Be careful and don’t burn yourself. (If your using a Swedish premade crust, you can save you cover/prop for this purpose.)
Once the pie is out of the oven, let it cool for at least 20 minutes or to room temperature prior to serving.
A few words about substitutes and variations for this pie. You might have noticed in the ingredient image that we’re using rocket (arugula) instead of spinach. My choice, as I think the rocket adds a bit more flavor. Likely any leafy green would work in the place of spinach. However, if your using kale, I think one might want to blanch it first. Also, you might of noticed a pre-made pie crust. The original recipe calls for making your own pie crust and “by all means”, if you have the time and the inclination go for it. But a pre-made pie shell works fine in my book. In North America, our preferred brand would be Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust or equivalent. Here in Sweden we’d just use the ICA brand Pajdeg.
Lastly, feel free to play around with this pie. For instance, it’s great with Flash Cooked and Chilled Asparagus instead of the greens. Just cut the blanched asparagus into small pieces and sauté with the leeks. You might also add chopped ham for instance or cooked breakfast sausage, for a one pie meal. Have a big crowd to feed? Make it into a casserole.
Oh my, doesn’t this carb loaded slice of Färskpotatispaj med Rocket pie look inviting?
Chloe says, “This pie making and tasting is arduous work!”
This recipe has been tasted by Chloe and approved for human consumption.
We’ll see you guys when we return to posting in September!
The Pie Of My Eye- Färskpotatispaj med Spenat
A wonderfully decadent, high - carb savory potato and cheese pie. Easy to prepare and wonderful when served with smoked fish, BBQ or whatever. Warning, Non-Paleo approved!
The pie crust
- 1 premade pie shell (such as Pillsbury), or homemade pie crust.
For the filling
- 15 ounces (400 g) New (Fresh) potatoes, lime sized.
- 4 inch (10 cm) Piece of fresh leek, from the white end.
- 2 1/2 oz (70 g) Baby Spinach, rocket (arugula) or other greens.
- 3 large (963-73 g) Eggs.
- 2/3 cup (1.5 dl) Milk. see note 2.
- 2/3 cup (1.5 dl) Heavy Cream (36-38%), see note 2.
- 1 cup (2 dl rounded) Västerbotten or cheese of choice. See note 3.
- 1 tbsp (1 msk) Olive oil, or fat of choice.
- Salt and pepper as needed.
"Blind Baking" the pie crust
“Blind bake” (pre-bake) the pie crust in a 9" (23 cm) pie pan according to the pie crust maker's instructions or in a 200°C (392°F) preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool. Glass or ceramic pie pans work the best. This can be done ahead.
For Swedish premade pie crust see note 1.
Prepping the filling ingredients
Wash, peel (optional) and cook your potatoes in salted water until they’re just done. Allow the potatoes to cool and slice about 1/4" (1/2 cm) thick. Reserve for use later. This step can be done ahead.
While the potatoes are cooking, thinly slice your leek.
Next, heat the olive oil until shimmering and sauté the leeks and the spinach (or rocket) mixture until they soften, then add salt and pepper to taste. Cool and reserve.
While your leek mixture is cooking, grade your chosen cheese.
Mix the cream/milk (matlagningsgrädde) and egg mixture. If using matlagningsgrädde, see note 2.
Wash and spin dry your greens (if needed).
Assembling and baking the pie
Place a layer of the cooked and sliced new potatoes on the bottom of a “blind baked” pie crust. This should be about half of the cooked potatoes.
Once you get half of the potatoes in place, spread half of the sautéed leek and spinach (or rocket) mixture.
Now, pour half of the egg and cream mixture over the potatoes followed by half of the leek mixture. Give the pan a little shake to allow the mixture to flow in between the potatoes.
Place the remaining potatoes in a layer and put the remaining leek mixture over the first layer (as before).
Finish this layer by pouring the remainder of the egg and cream mixture over the pie. Then give it another shake or two.
Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the pie.
Place the pie in the preheated 200°C (392°F) oven for 35 – 45 minutes or until the center of the pie is set. Note, after 20 minutes or so, cover the edges of the crust to prevent over browning. See note 4 if using an instant read thermometer.
Once the pie is out of the oven, let it cool for at least 20 minutes or to room temp prior to serving.
1: For Swedish premade pie crusts, you’ll need to make a foil cover/prop. The aluminum foil cover/prop is placed from the inside of the pan side, up and over the top edge of the pie dough in the pie pan. This cover/prop is used to keep the pie crust in place by preventing the pie dough from slumping during the baking process.
2: In Sweden you can use 3 dl of matlagningsgrädde instead of the 1.5 dl of milk and 1.5 dl of heavy cream.
3: Gruyère would work well in this pie or any good quality aged cheddar cheese like Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar or Boar’s Head Canadian Cheddar. Avoid highly processed cheeses.
4: If a instant read thermometer is used, cook until the center reaches 190°F (88°C) to 200°F (93°C).