Whether you’re looking to use up that carton of golden-yolked omega 3 eggs before their date with the trashcan or finish up uninspiring leftovers in the fridge at the end of the week, there are umpteen egg-based preparations that you can whip up. Omelettes, frittatas, quiches, strata, casseroles..the ideas for this culinary genre just keep on coming, like the proverbial bottomless pit.
However, what we encountered not only sounded exciting, it also made us question, and ponder, which almost always leads to good things – the Impossible Pie. Now, what is impossible about this pie, you might ask, and fortunately, it is not a pie that’s impossible to make (phew!). Rather, it is an impossibly easy pie to make. If you’re not convinced, take this – the pie is made from a single batter that magically separates into a top, bottom and filling layer while baking. Now doesn’t that sound really impressive?
There’s so much more about the Impossible Pie that is enticing. No fussing with pastry dough, rolling pins, dainty crimping or blind baking involved. The baker is even relieved of the heartache that a doughy, soggy bottom, burnt edges or worse, a soupy middle might bring. Just put all the ingredients together, pour the batter into the pan and bake. The trouble though, comes from expecting too much, but more on that later.
Our search revealed that while most Impossible Pies started with Bisquick (a pre-packaged baking mix), the flavours varied from sweet to savoury, and we chose the latter, naturally. We experimented, and tried one with the trusty trio of onions, peppers and sweet corn. Spinach and garlic went into one pie and broccoli with three kinds of cheese into the next one.
Tupperware containers with last night’s vegetables, surplus steamed corn, chicken mince, those last bits of cheese, our leftovers now had a place to go to but not everything was falling into place. The pies were all delicious, but could we really call them pies? The promised bottom crusts weren’t what you might call ‘crusty,’ though we could surely claim fluffy middles and cheesy tops. Couldn’t we just settle for a frittata instead of this mad hankering for something that might be, well, impossible?
After a few trials, we finally hit upon a recipe that works pretty well for us. The pie (yes we’re calling it that) does not have a crisp bottom, but to be honest, that’s a tall order with only one tablespoon of butter in the batter. The overall texture is like that of a crust-less quiche. But when something is this easy to put together, gets greeted with shouts of delight and helps clean out the fridge, well, you’re not getting too many grumbles out of us.
Garlicky Spinach Impossible Pie (Serves 2-3)
- 2 tbsp oil, divided
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 large onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 1 small bunch spinach, lightly steamed and squeezed to remove all the liquid
- pinch of nutmeg
- ½ cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup milk
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- Fresh ground pepper
- ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup crumbled paneer
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 6-7″ pie or baking dish with a tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook on low heat until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Use a fork to fluff the spinach and separate the strands if they are clumped together. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a blender or mixie place the flour, baking powder and butter. Run the blender for a few seconds to mix the butter in. Then add the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth.
- Transfer the cooled spinach mixture to the prepared pie dish and spread it out. Sprinkle the cheese and paneer evenly all over. Pour the egg mixture all over the spinach.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until puffy, lightly brown and set. Cool for about 10 minutes before slicing to ensure neater slices.
This pie tastes bests when served fresh and warm. It is not really something that you’d want to make ahead of time. Since it takes just a few minutes to put together, you could even prep the filling ingredients the previous night and bake the pie the next morning for breakfast, brunch or snack time.
We’ve found that this recipe is quite versatile and works well with many leftover veggies or meats. When you’re in a rush you could raid the fridge for anything that is fairly dry and spread it out on the pie dish. Then add the cheese and pour the egg mixture all over.
Here’s another Impossible pie that we made with corn, onions, potatoes, peppers and basil..
If you have leftovers refrigerate the slices in a covered container. To re-heat – microwave for about 30 seconds. Then place the slices on a preheated frying pan or tava and crisp up the top and bottom.
And, to wind-up the pie saga comes this beauty – the Three-cheese Broccoli Impossible Pie.