One of the most typical recipes in Gibraltarian cuisine is torta de acelgas, or spinach pie. Everyone has a slightly different take on this but in essence, it involves baking a mix of egg, spinach and cheese wrapped in pastry. Some people put boiled egg inside too, others ham. It’s all good.
I like to cheat making mine, primarily because my oven is on the blink and I haven’t got round to fixing it. It’s also quicker. I make it in a deep pan and the method is a bit like making a Spanish omelette. I use baby spinach leaves but you could use any other fresh type. It’s a fairly quick dish and simple to make.
The secret ingredient in Gibraltarian spinach pie is grated hard
, known round here as queso de bola because it’s bought in large round balls wrapped in distinctive red wax. It’s a Dutch cheese but I’ve never found it outside of Edam Gibraltar. I don’t know why that is. If you can’t find it, any other hard and strong cheese will do. Parmesan, for example.
One kilo of baby spinach leaves
Four cloves of garlic
, or any hard, strong cheese Edam
Put a drop of oil in a pan and wilt the spinach leaves. Don’t overdo this, you don’t want a green sludge and it’s best to err on the side of less rather than more. Once you’ve done this, drain off any excess liquid and set aside.
Chop up the garlic and fry lightly in a little olive oil. While this is happening, beat the eggs in a deep bowl. Once the garlic is softened and starting to take on colour, pour them into the eggs and add the spinach. Mix thoroughly.
Grate a decent amount of cheese. This is a personal thing but I like to add quite a bit in there. Mix thoroughly into the egg and spinach. Add the basil, about a tablespoon, and season to taste. Remember that the cheese is naturally salty, so go easy on the salt.
Put a small, deep non-stick pan on the hob on a medium heat and add a little olive oil, just enough to thinly coat the base and the sides. Pour in the mixture while the pan is heating up and allow it to cook on a low to medium heat. You want to cook it until you can lift the sides off with a spatula. Ensure the omelette isn’t stuck to the pan by working the spatula round the sides and under. Place a plate over the pan and flip it. Slide the omelette back into the pan, raw side down. This can be messy but don’t fret, just tidy the side up with the spatula. Allow to cook and repeat the process once or twice as necessary. Cooking times vary with this so just keep an aye on it. You want it golden on the outside, but not burnt.