When I was at Artisanal LA a few weeks ago, I came upon quite a lovely discovery: the Out of the Box Collective. For a few years now, I have been looking for a CSA (or community sponsored agriculture) program here in Santa Monica, where I would receive in-season fruits and vegetables each week from a local farmer. Funny thing is, even in a town with a world-famous farmer’s market, that was almost impossible to find. So when I happened upon this cute little company, I had a feeling I had finally found what I’d been looking for.
Yes, indeed I did. Walking up to my door to two crates of amazing food is certainly right up my alley. One crate was full of produce: cherries, leeks, chermoya, spring onions, herbs, potatoes, spinach, salad greens, tangerines, parsnips, carrots, beets. The other was filled with other “locally-produced artisinal specialties,” so there was hand-churned butter, goat cheese, handmade pickles, balsamic vinegar, free-range eggs, chocolate, pistachios, and a very handsome fresh pie shell that you see above. I was amazed that every single thing was almost used in its entirety within the week. What a way to make one more disciplined in using what is the freshest and most available at that moment. Only took one time to get me hooked.
The first night of my bounty resulted in a wild mushroom, spinach and ricotta pie, adapted from the LA Times.
Wild Mushroom, Spinach, Ricotta Pie
1 pound fresh spinach or 1 (9-ounce) package frozen spinach
2 tablespoons butter, divided
4 leeks, pale green and white parts only, sliced into thin rounds, about 4 cups
20 ounces assorted fresh wild mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup soft goat cheese
3/4 cup gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp. each of sea salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Coarsely chop the spinach. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the spinach and cook until the water evaporates, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the spinach to a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan over high heat, saute the leeks, mushrooms and garlic with the remaining butter until the garlic is aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are softened and the liquid evaporates, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a separate medium bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 tablespoon thyme, the parsley, nutmeg, lemon juice, Parmesan, sea salt and pepper.
Spoon half the cheese mixture into the pie plate, then cover with half the spinach. Sprinkle with half of the remaining thyme. Cover the spinach with half of the mushroom leek mixture. Cover with the remaining spinach, then the remaining mushroom and leek mixture. Sprinkle over the remaining thyme, then spoon over the remaining cheese mixture. Top with the gruyere. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving, if you can wait.