I had a look through my fridge at what needed using up and came across a block of feta and a half used jar of sun dried tomato paste and decided to combined them together in a savoury muffin. I wanted another colour and so fished out a couple of blocks of spinach from the freezer, which I think always goes well with feta. Hunting through my spice cupboard (yes I have a whole cupboard full of herbs and spices) I settled on some smoky paprika from Schwartz, which I think goes wonderfully with tomato.
I used a combination of self raising flour and then some nuttier brown rice flour to add a little grainy wholesomeness to the muffins. You could use fine ground cornmeal or polenta to achieve the same effect.
Mixing the batter together produced a wonderful smoky earthiness from the paprika, which also lent the batter a great subtle red-orange hue. All the colours together looked so pretty, green spinach, pure white feta and dusky red paprika/tomato.
During baking the muffins smelt so inviting, a mix of savoury smoky aromas that had me peeking through the oven door impatiently. After baking the muffins had a pale golden outer crust that was slightly crisp and scone-like, but breaking into one revealed a soft and tender crumb. These aren’t as light and fluffy as sweet muffins, being savoury they are more wholesome but they are by no means dense or heavy.
The chunks of feta became soft and creamy while the strands of spinach were scattered throughout giving a very attractive appearance. The muffins were slightly sweet to taste, but just as salt adds flavour to sweet things, I found the sweetness seemed to enhance the savoury elements of the muffins. I found the subtle smoky earthiness of the paprika added a slight tongue tingling warmth in a similar way that chili does.
They were delicious eaten on their own but I discovered they were even better with a little houmous or chutney. I took a few to work and warmed them in the microwave before dipping pieces into my soup and it was a lovely alternative to bread.
This was my first foray into savoury muffins, but I doubt it will be my last.
250g gluten free self raising flour*
50g brown rice flour or fine cornmeal*
40g caster sugar
1½ tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt
100g (2 blocks) frozen spinach
1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste or tomato pesto
100g feta cheese
6 cherry tomatoes
6 extra cherry tomatoes for decoration (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease the 12 wells of a muffin tin thoroughly with oil.
Defrost the spinach in the microwave and squeeze out any excess liquid. It’s fine to still be damp, but not swimming in liquid. Chop roughly and set aside.
Chop the feta into 5mm x 1cm pieces and half the cherry tomatoes and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, bicarb and paprika.
In a jug, measure out the milk and then beat in the eggs and sun dried tomato paste/pesto.
Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir briefly until some of the liquid is starting to be absorbed. Add the spinach, half the tomatoes and feta and fold together gently until just combined. (The batter should still be soft and lumpy, you don’t want a smooth mix).
Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to generously fill the wells of the muffin tin with the muffin mix. They don’t rise much so you can pile them up quite high and leave them looking rustic. You’ll get between 10-12 muffins.
Place a halved cherry tomato on the top of each muffin if desired and bake for 22-25 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before running a round bladed knife around the rim and removing them from the tin. Place on a rack to cool slightly.
Serve warm with houmous, chutney or cheese. Also taste great dipped into soup.
Eat or freeze on day of baking. On defrosting, warm slightly in the oven or microwave before serving.
Makes 10-12 muffins
Note: If you don’t want to make them gluten free then replace the gluten free flour with normal self raising flour and use fine ground cornmeal/polenta in place of the brown rice flour.