My mom used to make a cheap but delicious meal out of leftover rice, some eggs, cheese, milk, and a can of tuna. The recipe is so ridiculously simple and cheap that I made it a lot in college and when my husband and I were first married (and broke). At some point I realized that I could experiment with fillings other than tuna, and have gone with broccoli, roasted red peppers, and lately, greens. One of the cheapest way to get your greens is to buy a bag of frozen, chopped spinach. And a bonus? You don't have to try to get the sand off the spinach when you're ready to cook. This pie is perfect for spring, and is more heavily vegetables than some of the other rice-crusted savory pies I make--which I will share soon. It's really the perfect one-dish meal, since it has grains, veggies, and a healthy dose of protein. Add a green salad or cut fruit to your plate and you've got an easy and inexpensive meal sure to impress. If you're short on time, prepare this in the morning, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. (You'll need to increase baking time by about 5 minutes.)
Spinach Pie (serves 4-6)
3 cups cooked, cooled brown rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp dried dill weed or Italian herb blend, depending on your preference.
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper, divided
1 16-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid
1/4 cup cheese, optional*
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix the rice and olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then press into a greased pie plate. Set aside.
In the same bowl you mixed the rice in, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs. Mix in the spinach. Pour the spinach mixture into the pie plate and smooth the top as best you can. Top with 1/4 cup cheese if desired. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until set in the middle and golden on top. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
*I like to use freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, but feel free to use your favorite cheese or none at all. Without the cheese, this recipe works well non-dairy with a quick substitution of unsweetened non-dairy milks.
Variation: Instead of topping with cheese, use feta and mix it into the spinach-egg mixture. (Use dill for the herb.)
Cost per pie: $5 or less, even with organic dairy and local eggs