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Batsaria (Spanakopita's Easier Cousin)



I have been craving Spanakopita recently and, while I have a great (and slightly untraditional) recipe for it, the idea of making it for one person seemed a little silly. The cravings continued to magnify so the practical side of my brain retreated and I decided that I could make a recipe for four individual Spanakopita mini pies and freeze three.


Of course, life being what it is, when my weekly shop with its overabundance of greens for the recipe was delivered, a note was included in one of the bags to let me know that the store was out of phyllo dough. Two things were certain: I needed a recipe for leafy greens fast and I was sure as hell not making phyllo dough from scratch!


Internet research yielded many recipes for Batsaria, essentially Spanakopita filling covered with a batter rather than wrapped in phyllo. It is quite delicious in its own right and, while it lacks the crunch and crackle of Spanakopita's buttery phyllo layers, it really allows the delicious filling to have its moment in the spotlight. It basically tastes like a savory spinach shortcake.


I was able to scale my research down to the recipe for two portions transcribed below - I had it hot for Sunday brunch and will finish it cold for lunch tomorrow.



Filling:

4 cups baby spinach leaves

1 cup baby arugula

1 leek

1/4 medium red onion

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano leaves

1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp butter

4 oz crumbled feta cheese

1 egg

Salt and white pepper


Batter:

3/4 cup flour 1/8 tsp salt 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 cup melted butter 1 egg 1/2 cup ice cold water

Chop the alliums - finely chop the garlic, cut the red onion into thin half moons. Chop off the the green portion of the leek, cut the rest into thin spirals and wash very well, pushing aside the spiral layers into individual rounds as you wash. Leeks are very gritty so spend time on this or you will regret it when you eat the finished dish. The crunch of sand is not a substitute for that of phyllo.

Since spinach is also very gritty, make sure that you wash the leaves exceedingly well. Wash the arugula as well. Allow to drain and the tip onto a clean dish towel to dry well or spin in your salad dryer.


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add all of the alliums and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion and leek rounds have started to soften.

Add the chopped herbs and the bay leaf to the allium mixture and stir to combine.

Add the spinach and arugula, a large handful at a time, and - as soon as the leaves wilt - add another handful. Stir to combine and cook all of these ingredients until softened, stirring from time to time. Transfer from the pot to a large bowl, squeezing out and leaving behind, as much liquid as you can. Set aside to cool. This will seem like a lot of greens when you start out, but they really will reduce down to a manageable portion.

Once the filling is cool, preheat the oven to 350.


Press down on the filling with the back of a large spoon to see if you can drain off any more liquid. Remove the bay leaf. Mix in the egg and stir very well to combine. Crumble in the feta and stir lightly to combine without turning the feta to paste. Add salt and white pepper to taste, taking into account that the feta is salty.


Spoon all of the filling into a small oven safe dish lined with buttered foil paper (leave an overhang to help you lift the end result out of the pan), packing the filling in. I used a mini loaf pan. Do not use parchment paper as it will melt from the liquid and become part of your filling.


Mix all of the batter ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the batter over over the filling.


Place in the oven on a baking tray in case liquid or batter overflows a bit as happened to me, and bake for 50 minutes until the batter is fully set. Turn off the oven, leaving the Batsaria in place for 15 minutes before removing it.


Let cool until room temperature before unmolding by lifting the Batsaria out of the pan via the foil overhang and cut the gorgeous domed wonder in half to serve.

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