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Popeye Pie

First Posted: 03/20/2012 2:55 pm Updated: 08/31/2012 10:48 am

Popeye Pie

Popeye Pie
Squire Fox
Provided by:
total prep
This pizza is one of my most popular dishes, a kind of warm spinach salad on a crust. I've been serving it since the earliest days at Sullivan Street (its origin--how I came to make--are now lost in the mists of memory). But, even today, to the best of my knowledge, I'm the only one who offers it. Try it at home, and right after that first bite, you'll see why it's one the most popular pies I've ever devised. When I make the Popeye in my home kitchen, I deviate from the usual system in this book and bake it (as called for here) rather than placing it under the broiler. The image of the mound of spinach directly under flame just seem wrong--I'm not even sure what would happen, but it wouldn't be good.

Recipe courtesy of My Pizza by Jim Lahey & Rick Flaste, 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc


  • 1 ball of Pizza Dough, shaped and waiting on a floured peel (see recipe below)
  • 1 medium garlic clove grated
  • 30 grams (about 1 ounce) pecorino fresco, cut into 1-inch cubes and slightly flattened by pressing between thumb and index finger
  • 18 grams (1/3 cup) finely grated Gruyère cheese
  • 50 grams (about 1 3/4 ounces) fresh mozzarella, pulled into shreds
  • 2 pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 120 grams (about 4 1/4 ounces) fresh spinach
  • Generous pinch of fine sea salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) water


  • Pizza Dough (makes 4 balls of dough, enough for 4 pizzas): In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72º F) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
  • Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them: For each portion start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, the top then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
  • If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.
  • Note: Don’t freeze the dough, but you can store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for up to three days. In effect, when you’re set to use it, you have your own ready-made dough.

  • Place the pizza stone in a gas oven on the middle rack. Preheat the oven on bake at 500ºF for 30 minutes, Switch to broil for 10 minutes and then back to bake at 500ºF.
  • With the dough on the peel, sprinkle the surface evenly with garlic. Distribute the pecorino, Gruyère, and mozzarella evenly over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with pepper.
  • With a quick, jerking motions, slide the pie on the stone. Bake for 2 minutes.
  • Pull the rack partially out of the oven. Quickly add the spinach in what will look like a big mound (the spinach will reduce, the mound flattening, as spinach always does when it cooks). Sprinkle evenly with salt. Return the pie to the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes in a gas oven (somewhat longer with an electric oven, until the crust is charred in spots, but not as deeply as with the other pizzas in the book.
  • Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Drizzle evenly with oil. Slice and serve immediately.

  • Note: The spinach I prefer--and this may come as a surprise, given how I feel about the venal corporate influence--is bagged spinach. It is cleaner than bunched spinach and labor free, a convenience product that actually makes sense. But there are still some things to keep in mind: There should be no moisture in the bag, which encourages rotting. Check for discoloration. Blackened leaves mean that the spinach in that bag has seen hard times.


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