Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spanakopita..........or 'Spinach' Pie

My vege box this week had the biggest bunch of silverbeet (swiss chard) in it and I was so excited to find it there. I get a random selection of goodies each week, so its a big surprise when I open it. And I have heaps of fun thinking about what I will make! Silverbeet can be one of those vegetables that earn a poorly reputation from mistreatment in the kitchen. Tastes pretty average just boiled and plonked on a plate. But there are ways to make it shine, and Spanakopita is certainly one of them.

I have a recipe for this dish thanks to my Uncle Lucky. He is a wonderful chef. His recipe which I really only remember as a list of ingredients yields a delicious pie, and can handle a fair bit of adjustments according to what you have available. I made this today and had only a little feta to add. I made up for this by including extra ricotta, and salt. I have written this recipe according to what I did yesterday. It's great warm from the oven, as well as cold from the fridge.


You will need:
1 bunch silverbeet, washed, trimmed from stalks, and roughly chopped
1 box frozen spinach
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 small leeks, sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tbsp uncooked rice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried oregano
500g ricotta
80g feta, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt or so, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/2 packet filo pastry
2 tbsp butter, extra
2 tbsp olive oil, extra

Start by steaming the silverbeet until wilted, I just plonked it in a saucepan over medium heat, and kept an eye on it stirring occasionally, until it was done. Add the frozen spinach and stirring occasionally, heat through. Once everything is cooked, set aside until cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. If you forget to do this you will end up with very soggy pie. In a fry pan over medium heat cook leeks and onion in the butter and oil until soften and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add rice and fry until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in cooled, squeezed spinach and silverbeet, breaking it up a bit. Next stir in nutmeg, dill, oregano, ricotta, and crumbled feta. Mix well. Add lightly beaten eggs, and stir to combine. That's the filling done. It can really go in any kind of pastry. Filo, Puff, Short Crust, Bread dough, etc. It's up to you.

I chose filo this time. It can be a little tricky to handle as it is really thin and tears easily, also you have to be careful that it doesn't dry out, keeping the unused portion under a damp tea towel.
So you need to layer the sheets of pastry, brushing with the combine extra butter and oil, between each layer. Build up 4-6 layers for the base, place in the prepared filling, then make another 4-6 layer blanket of pastry and cover the top. Fold the edges over the top of the pie, sealing the edges with the butter oil mixture, and then finally brush the top.

Bake in a moderate oven for 40-60 minutes, until golden and slightly puffed up in the middle. Cover with foil if it browns too fast. I have a confession. My oven is broken. It has no handle to open, is missing the front glass panel (ie it only has one panel instead of two), has only two settings on and off (no temperature control, it gets to around 150 Celsius, but is fan-forced so that's approximately moderate heat), and heat comes from the grill at the top, which is luckily dispersed around the oven by the fan, and a large flat tray I put at the top of the oven. But I can't get rid of it yet, because it still works, in it own fashion. I tell you this, because I know that my instructions for cooking times are very vague. That's because I am guessing a little about how long it will take in your oven, if you decide to make this recipe. So I apologise in advance if they are a little off. :)

Thanks to Lucky for the recipe, and you for reading! Hope you make and enjoy this delicious pie.

We had it tonight with pork sausages, bakery rolls, cabbage and bacon baked risoni, and green salad. Oh and good old tomato sauce. YUM

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