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"Spanakopita" Pie


"Spanakopita" Pie

I love bite-sized Spanakopita as cocktail party fare but often find that a main course portion of the same starts to taste a bit "Johnny-little-one-note" a few bites in. I also hesitate to make it at home because of the faff that is involved in buttering and layering each thin piece of the phyllo dough.


Still, my CSA box this week was full to the brim with seven kinds of herbs and three kinds of greens in massive quantities, so something Spanakopita-esque seemed like the obvious choice to reduce my glut of spring greens before my refrigerator became a place of wilting sadness. So, as usual these days when actually cooking, off I went to my lovely Kalustyans spice and sundries store for phyllo and Greek Feta.

 

Once home, as I was staring crankily at the packet, it occurred to me that there might be a way to make an actual pie, which would involve the buttery joys of phyllo but none of the labor. Light bulb moment. Once I committed to this non-traditional pastry path, it was only a matter of minutes before I threw caution to the wind and went with a non-classical filling as well.

 

For those of you who are sticklers for authenticity, this is not that recipe, but might I introduce you to a pie in the manner of spanakopita? Three times less work and triple the flavor.

 

This pie makes six portions and is exceedingly portable for office lunches. Yay!


 

8 oz of phyllo dough, defrosted (my package of phyllo dough contains 2 rolls of 8 oz each)

3 large bunches of spring greens (in my case, a mix of Swiss chard, spinach and copious amounts of radish greens)

2 large leeks

1 red onion (white will do in a pinch

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves

1 bunch chopped fresh dill

1 bay leaf

 8 oz feta cheese

4 eggs

1 stick butter

Salt and white pepper


Chop the allium - finely chop the garlic, cut the red onion in half and then 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.

 

Melt a quarter of the stick of butter in a deep pan over low heat and add the allium trio as is it melting. Stir from time to time as you prepare the rest of the dish.

 

Since spring greens are also very gritty, make sure that you cut of the stems and wash the leaves exceedingly well. Allow to drain and the tip onto a clean dish towel to dry well or spin in your salad dryer.

 

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

 

Add the spring greens, a large handful at a time, and - as soon as that wilts - add another. 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 in the fridge to cool.

 

Once the filling is cool, press with the back of a large spoon to see if you can remove any more liquid. Remove the bay leaf. Mix in the eggs 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.

 

When ready to assemble, melt the remaining butter. Yes, it is a lot. Well, don't eat this every day.

 

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan well. My spring form pan is back on the Cape with the items not yet moved back to Manhattan so I improvised with a Pyrex dish.

 

Preheat the oven to 350.

 

Open the package of phyllo dough and unwrap. Randomly add layers of several sheets of the dough at a time to the buttered pan making sure that you stack them in alternating directions; allowing all of the overflow to hang over the edges. Brush each layer with some melted butter before you add the next.

 

Once you have added the final piece of phyllo to the pan, tip in the filling and then fold the phyllo dough overhang over the top, a few pieces at a time from alternating sides, buttering as you go and making sure to brush the top well with any remaining butter.

 

Bake for one hour and allow to cool to room temperature in the ring (or in the pan before inverting on to a plate) before serving. After about an hour open the ring (or flip) and, voilà, crispy buttery goodness with a delicious filling.



P.S. Apologies for the over-exposed picture. I have yet to find a good place in my new kitchen, lighting-wise.

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