Spanakopita and More

My sister and I spent some time visiting Greece many years ago and I really learned to love the food. Always so fresh and tasty. Lots of healthy vegetables and slow dining encouraged me to learn to make my favorites.

My sister Pam and I breakfast dining on the beach at Vatera Beach on Lesvos.

My sister Pam and I breakfast dining on the beach at Vatera Beach on Lesvos.

My friend Gene does not eat spinach. I know, it’s a sad situation. There are a lot of things he does not eat because it’s a kidney stone thing and since he has followed his specific diet, no kidney stones. For fifteen years no kidney stones. So I tolerate him for not eating spinach because as a retired nurse I have seen what kidney stones do to a person. ouch

That said, I LOVE spanakopita so much. It is spinach heavy. Gene has never had spanakopita.

We brilliantly realized we should make it using home grown Pak Choi. Was that ever a fine idea. I will suggest using a slightly heavier hand with the spices as the choi seems to be a little less delicate than spinach.

Below are pictures of last night’s meal and following that will be the recipes for spank (that’s short for spanakopita), hummus, tabouli, and a word about falafel. Enjoy!

 

In olive oil saute one bunch of green onions and garlic.

In olive oil saute one bunch of green onions and garlic.

Add your chopped damp greens and cook until limp. Set aside to cool.

Add your chopped damp greens and cook until limp. Set aside to cool.

Let all this rest while you prepare the phyllo dough layers with olive oil. I didn’t get a photo of that action. Tedious and fast paced it is.

Fresh out of the oven, resting a few minutes before cutting into eight big pieces.

Fresh out of the oven, resting a few minutes before cutting into eight big pieces.

I prefer to cook my own garbanzos to make hummus but canned ones will do just fine. I substituted sprouted grain tortillas for pita bread and that worked real well also.

I prefer to cook my own garbanzos to make hummus but canned ones will do just fine. I substituted sprouted grain tortillas for pita bread and that worked real well also.

The tabouli was as good as it gets with winter tomatoes. Of course it's better in the summer when tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh from the garden. We do the best we can. Hey! The parsley was fresh out of the garden and the basil fresh from the window sill.

The tabouli was as good as it gets with winter tomatoes. Of course it’s better in the summer when tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh from the garden. We do the best we can. Hey! The parsley was fresh out of the garden and the basil fresh from the window sill.

AND the man had a celebration feast in honor of his first real (sorta) day of retirement.

AND the man had a celebration feast in honor of his first real (sorta) day of retirement.

Hummus

Make the hummus as early as the day before.

1 can chickpeas, drained, reserve liquid
1/4 C tahini
2 Tbls. lemon juice
3 Tbls Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 – 1/2 C cilantro, minced
2 green onions or your favorite onion, chopped
salt & pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth scraping down as necessary. Add more fluid as needed and adjust spices to taste. Flavors will marry and mellow as it rests.

Turn out into a serving bowl or storage container. Serve topped with a swirl of olive oil on top and a few olives if you like. Accompany with pita bread, chips, crackers or raw vegetables for a light meal, a snack or a side dish.

This makes enough for a main dish for two people with a couple small sides or a side dish for as many as eight people. We like to have it as a main with pita, tortillas, romaine boats or even on hearty toasted bread. Some olives or cherry tomatoes and some fruit round it out as a small simple meal.

Tabouli

Make tabouli a couple hours ahead of time or immediately before eating as it does not hold especially well for more than 24 hours.

5 ounces bulgar (about 3/4 C.)
1 C. boiling water

1 C. cucumber, chopped fine
1 C. tomatoes, chopped fine
1 C. green peppers, chopped fine
1/2 C. onions, green or yellow, minced
1 – 2 C. fresh parsley, minced
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbls. dried mint or fresh minced mint
1/4 C basil, minced
1 – 2 drizzles honey
1/4 C. lemon juice
1/4 C. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

3 – 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Pour the boiling water over the bulgar and let sit until it expands and the water is absorbed, chill, drain off any excess water. This can be done the day before.

Prepare vegetables and place into serving or storage bowl. Add remaining ingredients except feta cheese. Stir well to incorporate ingredients. Add feta cheese immediately before serving or on the side in an individual bowl.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately. Makes 1 – 2 large servings or 3 – 4 side servings. NOTE: all vegetable and seasoning amounts are flexible.

Spanakopita

2 Tbls. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. spinach, rinsed and chopped

1/4 C. dill, dried or fresh
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. mint, dried or fresh

4 eggs, well beaten
4 – 6 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

1/2 package phyllo dough
1 C. olive oil

Heat olive oil in very large skillet. Add green onions and garlic, dill, nutmeg and mint. Saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the chopped spinach (or other mild greens you may want to substitute) and stir until coated and the greens are thoroughly wilted. Remove from heat and let rest while you prepare remaining ingredients.

Beat eggs in a medium bowl and add the crumbled feta cheese, salt and pepper. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350.

Use a 9 X 13 pan, 2 inches deep. Roll out the package of thawed phyllo dough and cover with a moist towel. Working quickly place one slice of phyllo in bottom of pan and using a pastry brush  coat well with olive oil. Repeat layers until you have used about half the sheets (8 – 10 layers). Keep the roll of phyllo dough covered with the towel while oiling what is in the pan to avoid it drying out. Try to avoid dough from becoming overly warm at this stage as it will become difficult to work with.

Stir the egg and cheese mixture into the slightly cooled spinach mixture then spread the spinach filling on top of the oiled layers of phyllo dough evenly. Top with remaining layers of phyllo dough oiling each layer carefully as you go.

Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 – 35 minutes. Remove and let rest 10 – 20 minutes. Cut into eight servings.

Makes a great main dish, hand held snacks when cold or a side dish with accompaniments.

A Word About Falafel:

People make marvelous falafel from scratch. I have not. I buy a dry mix from my local health food store and make it that way. Someday I will try it from scratch but not today!

As we say in the Ozarks, Bonnie appetite!

signature, Sarah

Ready to eat spanakopita! Made with any mild green you like.

Ready to eat spanakopita! Made with any mild green you like.

 

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