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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter Y is for Yummy Recipe

Not sure if you could tell from yesterday's brief post, but it was the first day of NJ ASK testing and my brain was a bit fried. Sorry about that. Today, I am back in full force with another yummy, yummy Greek recipe for you. I  already posted about the Athenian Cheesecake I made for my Ancient History class. But did I happen to mention what else I made for my GATE classmates and teachers while we were studying Ancient Greece? I made spanakopita, or spinach pie. This recipe may not be as ancient as the cheesecake, but it's full of feta and spinach and phyllo dough and overall yummy, gooey, goodness. Hope you like it!!

Ingredients:
  • 2 lb. fresh spinach, washed, dried, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 3 oz. or 10 small), white and light-green parts only, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese (10 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parm cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil for brushing; more as needed
  • Eighteen 9x14-inch sheets frozen phyllo dough (I used Athens brand), thawed and at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. whole milk
To make the filling: Heat a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a few large handfuls of the spinach and cook, tossing gently. As the spinach starts to wilt, add the rest a few handfuls at a time. Cook until all the spinach is wilted and bright green, roughly 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach to a colander set in the sink. Let cool slightly and squeeze with your hands to extract as much of the remaining liquid as you can.Wipe the pan dry with a paper towel. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook  about 4 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spinach, turn off the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Then stir in the cheeses, eggs, dill, parsley, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. salt and mix thoroughly.

TO ASSEMBLE: With a pastry brush, lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan with some of the oil. YOU MUST work quickly! I can't emphasize that enough. Have everything you need right at your fingertips, so it goes easy and quick for you. Now, lightly oil one side of a phyllo sheet and lay it in the pan oiled side up and off center so that it partially covers the bottom and reaches halfway up one long side of the pan (the edge on the bottom of the pan will be about 1 inch from the side). Lightly oil the top of another phyllo sheet and lay it oiled side up and off center so it reaches halfway up the other long side of the pan. (If your pan has sloped sides, the sheets may be slightly longer than the bottom of the pan; if so, let the excess go up one short side of the pan and then alternate with subsequent sheets.) Repeat this pattern with 4 more phyllo sheets.Next, lightly oil the tops of 3 phyllo sheets and layer them oiled side up and centered in the pan. Spread the filling evenly over the last layer. Repeat the oiling and layering of the remaining 9 phyllo sheets over the filling in the same way you layered the previous 9. With the oiled bristles of the pastry brush, push the edges of the phyllo down around the sides of the pan to enclose the filling completely. With a sharp knife, score the top phyllo layer into 24 rectangles, being careful not to cut all the way through to the filling. Using the same pastry brush, brush the milk along all the score marks (this will keep the phyllo from flaking up along the edges of the squares). Bake the spanakopita at 375 degrees until the top crust is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool until just warm. Cut out the rectangles carefully along the score marks and serve.
My first attempt at this did not come out exactly "perfect" (but it sure tasted  good)
My second attempt went way better as I found my pace and rhythm. I was able to bang the pie out with much less difficulty, once I got used to working with the phyllo dough. 
**Faith's A Foodie Tips:  Although I do my very best to keep most of the recipes here quick and easy, this recipe is not one of them. Mainly because working with phyllo dough can be a bit of a pain and  more difficult because it dries out really fast and gets brittle when it's exposed to air. You must work very quickly to get this done. It helps me to have everything I need, right on hand and to keep a clean, clear work station while assembling. That makes a world of difference. FYI- you can choose to serve this spinach pie warm or at room temperature, which is the traditional way of serving. I happen prefer mine warm. Also, it helps to bake this pie more evenly if you position your rack in the center of the oven. Enjoy!



6 comments:

  1. I'd eat that!
    I never worry about the looks. If it tastes good, I'll devour it.

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    1. It took me a while to get this recipe right. But I had to for my class! I am good at it now. My mom especially likes this one, because she loves spinach and feta in everything.

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  2. This looks and sounds really yummy, and no meat so no modifications needed. Can't wait to try this one.

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    1. YES! I thought of you when posting this yesterday because I knew you could eat it. It's really yummy.

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  3. This sounds delicious, but i'm a very inexperienced cook so I'll probably just order it at a diner!

    So impressed that you're able to churn out these posts during a busy school time. Hope your test went well!

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    1. You can buy nice versions of this, already to heat up. Try brands-like Athens. But I bet if you put your mind to it- you could do it yourself!! It just takes a little patience and practice. I learned by trial and error. Lots of things I made when I was younger were flops! I still have a few flops from time to time! I think that happens to every Chef.

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