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Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Pie for Pi Day

It’s Pi Day this week, on March 14 (often abbreviated as 3.14), and all thoughts turn to pie!

Here are simple, streamlined ways to get a delicious sweet or savoury pie on your table.

Simple Spanakopita

This is a simple way to assemble spanakopita, a savoury, greens-based pie. 

Scrunching the greens with oil will break them down, but if you’d like, you could sauté a chopped onion with some garlic, then add the greens and wilt them down first. Then, go ahead and spoon the mix into the pastry and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

  • 6-8 cups fresh greens — spinach, kale, chard, fresh mint or other herbs
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (or about ¼ purple onion)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½-1 cup crumbled feta
  • olive oil, melted butter or a combination, for drizzling and brushing
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5-6 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Tear your greens into a large bowl, add the shallot, garlic and feta, drizzle generously with oil or melted butter, season with salt and pepper and scrunch with your hands to combine everything. Coat it with oil and break the greens down.

Lay a sheet of phyllo into a baking dish (or deep pie plate) that’s about 9 inches in diameter or a similar volume, letting the excess phyllo hang over the edges.

Brush the bottom (and some of the sides, if you like) with oil or melted butter and place another sheet on top, at a different angle so that the sides overhang an exposed part of the pan. Brush with butter or oil and top with a third piece of phyllo, brushing that, too. Repeat with remaining phyllo.

Pile the scrunched greens into the phyllo, then fold over the sides that are hanging over the edge of the pan. Brush or drizzle with the remaining oil or butter.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until deep golden and heated through.

an apple pie cut into slices on a marble board.
This apple slab pie works for dessert and breakfast. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Apple Slab Pie

Like a giant turnover, this slab pie is quick to assemble and bake — perfect for breakfast or dessert. 

  • ½ package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 large apples, cored and sliced (I don’t bother peeling them)
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar (or to taste)
  • a shake of cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, or some milk, cream or oat milk (optional)
  • coarse sugar (like turbinado), for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and when the foam subsides, sauté the apples for 3-4 minutes, until they’re soft and starting to turn golden. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for a few more minutes, until any excess moisture cooks off and they’re softened and syrupy.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out into an 11- to 12-inch square (or just unroll it, if it’s pre-rolled). Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet and spread the apples down one half, leaving half an inch or so around the three sides. Fold over the pastry to cover the apples — remember, it doesn’t have to look perfect — and press down around the edges with the tines of a fork.

Brush with beaten egg (or cream, or oat milk) if you want it glossy, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife to help steam escape. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it reaches a deep golden colour. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices or wedges.

Serves: About 6.

a berry and rhubarb pie is pictured in a black cast iron skillet.
A galette is a great way to use some of the fruits you may have stored in your freezer. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Freezer Fruit Galette

Rummage through your freezer for berries, rhubarb or stone fruit (such as peaches or cherries) for this delicious, simple galette.


  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter or shortening (or half butter, half shortening), chilled and grated or cut into bits
  • 1/3 cup cold water


  • 4 cups frozen or fresh berries, rhubarb or stone fruit — a combination is ideal
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • milk (any kind)
  • coarse sugar, for brushing and sprinkling (optional)

To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, add the butter and blend it in so that there are blueberry-sized pieces of fat remaining. Add the water and stir until it starts to come together. Gather it up into a ball, pat into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to a couple of days.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F.

a pie is pictured on a flat marble surface. icing sugar dusts the pie and the counter top.
You can fold the edge of this pastry wherever it wants to while you’re enclosing the fruit. As an optional step, sprinkle the edge with some sugar. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to about ¼-inch thick — or about a 12-inch circle. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I like rolling it right onto a silpat mat and sliding it onto a baking sheet. Otherwise, transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Put the fruit (don’t thaw it) into a large bowl. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the cornstarch into the sugar and shake it over the fruit; toss to coat. Mound into the middle of the pastry, spreading it out to within an inch or two of the edge.

Fold the edge over wherever it wants to, enclosing the fruit, pressing the folds gently to hold them in place. If you like, brush the edge of the pastry with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is golden. Let cool to at least lukewarm before you cut into it.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

LISTEN | Julie Van Rosendaal talks pie for Pi Day on the Calgary Eyeopener: 

Calgary Eyeopener8:28Julie Van Rosendaal on pie

Our food guide Julie Van Rosendaal helps us get ready for PIE day which lands later this week.

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