Saturday, November 21, 2009

Summer Mediterranean- Spanakopita and Greek Salad

Spanakopita and Greek Salad
Home Cooking

I've always loved the idea of spinach pie - it's just the kind of thing that appeals to me since I'm automatically drawn in by anything that's packed with veggies (don't I just sound like some kind of kid's education program??)


My first taste of spanakopita was from the farmer's markets and it was so yum. It didn't really occur to me to make my own until I saw Alex Perry do it on Celebrity Masterchef.

Part of my post-exam wind down is spending the weekend back at my parents house. It's such a difference from my little room where I'm staying at the moment. Rather than having nothing but cereal, their pantry/fridge contains an abundance of random ingredients from back in my cooking days. I spied some feta cheese and puff pastry so I thought... time for spinach pie?

Technically, spanakopita should be made from phyllo dough but I had the puff pastry handy and that's what I used.

Spanakopita
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
  • 300g spinach leaves, washed, blanched with hot water and drained
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 70g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 30g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Procedure:

1. In a large frying pan, heat the tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic until just browned and softened.2. Add the spinach and stir until combined.3. Put the mixture in a sieve or colander and press out any excess moisture.
4. In a large bowl, combine the feta, ricotta and Parmesan.
5. Add the green onions, dill, lemon juice and spinach. Season with salt and pepper (you should slightly over-season to make up for the addition of eggs).
6. Add the eggs and stir it all together.7. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
8. Line a square baking pan with non-stick paper. Cut out a piece of puff pastry the same size as the bottom.9. Press the puff pastry into the bottom of the baking pan.
10. Evenly spread the filling over the top. Level it out with the back of your wooden spoon.11. Cut another piece of puff pastry out and layer it over the top. Push the edges into the sides of the pan as best as you can without causing the filling to ooze out. I had a few extra pieces of puff pastry so I made a bit of a pattern over the top.
12. Brush the melted butter over the top (I mixed my melted butter with a tiny bit of extra dill).13. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 45-50min. Once you see the puff pastry has gone golden, cover the baking dish with foil to prevent it from burning. I then removed the foil in the last 5min to let the puff pastry cook/crisp up properly. You'll know the spanakopita is cooked if it slides within the pan when you shake it gently.14. Cool on a wire rack for 15min before slicing and serving it warm. I served mine with a simple Greek salad (see below).


The spanakopita turned out pretty good. I've had terrible luck with puff pastry before but this time, it totally 'rose to the occasion' (I couldn't resist, sorry) - golden, crisp, puffy and flaky. My dad literally pulled the pastry top off his slice and ate that first. My filling was a bit watery, which is why I've emphasized you must drain the spinach well or it will make your pie soggy.

Inside bite shot

The other thing is, I used low fat everything (ricotta, feta, you name it) which may have contributed to a slight blandness. But that's the compromise you have to make... I imagine that meddling around with the ratio of cheeses and improving the quality of cheese (including an upgrade to the full fat versions) would be the best way to improve this dish. Perhaps one less egg too.

Greek Salad

Serves 3

Ingredients:

Note: my version is lacking in 2 KEY Greek salad ingredients, feta cheese and olives. I left out feta because that's a main component of the spanakopita and I didn't want it overwhelming everything and I left out olives because my family doesn't like them. Simply add these 2 ingredients to your salad to make it more authentic.
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
Procedure:

1. Put the vegetables together in a bowl.
2. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar and oregano. Add a bit of seasoning.3. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine. Easy!


The Greek salad was a great, simple, fresh and light accompaniment to the spanakopita. It looks gorgeous - the colors are just fabulous and the dressing provides a nice gloss. It's perfect as is for a side but just add feta and olives to make it a bit more substantial. Now that the weather is heating up, it's hard to work up an appetite for anything more than a salad so a simple Greek salad is definitely on my go-to menu.

I served the Greek salad with the spanakopita (above).

3 comments:

  1. Oh my, this looks good. Can I come over?

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  2. I actually ended up making the one Alex Perry made - nothing like the one I grew up on (but that one takes agessss to make and involves a large wooden rod) and it was actually pretty good - I always use full fat everything when it comes to dairy, but I'm a 'throw it all to the wind' kinda gal when it comes to food.
    And yes - DEFINITELY drain the spinach I made that mistake once, and mine was like a soup. Yours looks yummy - love the puff pastry cris cross detail :)

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  3. I thought his one looked yummy even though Matt Preston wasn't happy with the presentation. Large wooden rod? Curious!

    ReplyDelete