5:30 Challenge: Spinach-Sausage Pie

5:30 Challenge

5 ingredients/30 minutes

Tonight’s solution

Spinach-Sausage Pie

To make the meal

Cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks

Everyone needs a recipe they can pull out at a moment’s notice for potluck events. If it’s a dish that gets raves and is simple to make, even better. Poncey-Highland resident Virginia Murray first tried this spinach-sausage pie 10 years ago. Her friend, Buckhead bachelor David Beavers, brought it to a potluck brunch. Murray says she is “not a cook,” but this pie was within range of her modest skills.

In the years since, it's become her go-to dish when contributing to a brunch. She's so well-known for it that it's specifically requested for the annual volunteer brunch at Virginia-Highland's Ten Thousand Villages where she serves as president of the board of directors.

The original recipe called for thawing packaged spinach soufflé and then combining it with the cooked sausage and baking for one hour. When asked if she could make the dish in 30 minutes or less, Murray was willing to experiment. Five iterations later, she came up with this version.

Asked if she’d go back to making it the hour-long way, Murray confessed that she probably would. She cooks the sausage ahead of time, thaws the soufflé overnight and then just combines everything in the morning and puts it into the oven to bake. If she times it right, she can go back to sleep for a little while before pulling the hot pie out of the oven.

But if you’re trying to get brunch or dinner on the table in a hurry, this streamlined version is a snap. Use mild or hot sausage, according to your household’s preference.

There are several options for the pie shell. Quickest? Purchase a frozen pie shell already in a foil baking dish. Almost as quick? For a more homemade look, purchase a box of refrigerated pie crusts, unroll one into your own pie pan and crimp the edges. Got more time? Prepare your own homemade crust.

Take the 5:30 Challenge. If you have a great-tasting main-dish recipe that uses no more than five ingredients and can be made in 30 minutes or less, tell us. (Salt, pepper, water and oil for greasing a pan don’t need to be included in the ingredient count.) You can also suggest a side dish if it can be made within the same time. Send recipes with your name, address and phone number to fivethirty@ajc.com.

Spinach-Sausage Pie

Hands on: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

1 9-inch pie shell

1 (12-ounce) package frozen spinach soufflé

1 (1-pound) tube ground pork sausage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put pie shell in oven to begin baking.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Break up sausage into small bits. Discard any fat rendered during the cooking. Keep sausage warm.

While sausage is cooking, pierce the plastic wrap on the spinach soufflé and cook in microwave on high power for 6 minutes. Remove from the microwave and spoon soufflé into a microwave-safe medium bowl. Stir in the browned sausage. Return mixture to microwave and heat on high power for 6 minutes more.

Remove spinach mixture from microwave and pie shell from oven. Spoon spinach mixture into pie shell and return to oven. Bake 10 minutes or until heated through and top begins to brown. Serve hot or warm.

Per serving: 463 calories (percent of calories from fat, 75), 12 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 39 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 741 milligrams sodium.