One of the most vivid memories I have of visiting Greece as a teenager is the amazing food. Everything tasted wonderful and different from foods that I was used to at that time. I loved the pastries, the meats and the delicate flavors. It’s during that trip that I began a serious love affair with Spanakopita, a crispy, delicate and delicious Spinach Pie. I seriously could eat huge quantities of Spanakopita. Every year in September, my city has a big Greek Festival. I try to go annually to load up on Greek delicacies that I don’t have time to make. For years I used to pig out on Spanakopita at the festival, when finally a few years ago I got smart. I decided that I’d asked all of my Greek friends to give me their very best versions of Spanakopita recipes so I could try them all. My friends were very helpful and passed on several recipes and over the last several years I’ve combined the things I liked from all of them to come up with this current recipe. Some families like to make Spanakopita in a large pan and cut them into squares, while others prefer to make them into triangle shapes. I love the versatility of the triangle shape since it’s so portable and because I can freeze them and bake them up individually (or a whole bunch) whenever I have a craving!
Here’s the recipe:
Spanakopita ~ Greek Spinach Triangles
1 box Fillo Dough
2 pounds frozen chopped Spinach (you can use fresh but in this recipe there is very little difference)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil (I like to use fresh basil)
1 tsp dill
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (you can use dry thyme)
1 tsp kosher salt
5 stalks of Scallions
7 oz crumbled Feta
1/2 cup Ricotta
1/2 cup Cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
3/4 lb (3 sticks) of unsalted butter
4 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Defrost Spinach and squeeze out all excess water and set aside. In a large skillet heat olive oil and saute onions, scallions, garlic, salt and herbs. After onions are tender, add Spinach to the mixture and stir fry for a few minutes. Take off heat and pour it into a large bowl. Add eggs, cheeses and lemon juice to the Spinach mixture. Stir to mix well.
Take out Fillo dough from package and put them on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out. Melt 3 sticks of butter in a microwave safe bowl and get a pastry brush. Place a piece of Fillo dough on a large cutting board and brush it with melted butter, working quickly so the fillo doesn’t dry out, place another sheet on top and brush that with butter as well. Repeat with three sheets of Fillo. Using a pizza cutter, cut three equal long strips on the Fillo. Place a large 1 1/2 tablespoon of spinach filling on the top of one of the strips and fold it at an angle so it forms a triangle. Keep folding the triangle onto itself until all the filling is enclosed in a triangular shape. Place it on a cookie sheet and brush the completed triangle with melted butter. Repeat the procedure withe the other two strips. Continue making triangles with three sheets of buttered Fillo at a time. Should yield about 42-46 individual Spanakopitas. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Serve warm.
It’s Spring Break time. My house is full of 8 hungry college students who arrived famished from a road trip. I decided to use the Spinach Basil Pesto http://kolpona.com/2012/03/17/spinach-basil-pesto/ I just put together to come up with a pasta dish. It turned out great if the empty plates were any indication.
Here’s the recipe:
Spinach Chicken Alfredo
16 oz of Fettuccine
3 whole cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
4 tablespoons of Spinach Basil Pesto (see recipe)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken cut into pieces
large handful of fresh Spinach leaves
1 pint of Heavy Cream
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of Parmiaggiano Reggiano Cheese
1/2 cup of Mozzarella cheese
In a 5 quart pan boil water with 5- 6 tablespoons of salt (should be like sea water) and cook pasta for about 8 minutes. In the mean time, in a large skillet heat olive oil and butter. Add salt, fresh cracked pepper and minced garlic and sauté about a minute until garlic releases its fragrance. Add spinach pesto and stir for about 30 seconds. Add flour to the mixture and cook for about a minute to get the starchy flour smell out. Slowly begin to add heavy cream and whole milk and stir until mixture begins to thicken. This should take about 3-4 minutes. When mixture has thickened nicely, add parmiaggiano Reggiano and mozzarella and stir until melted and incorporated into a smooth sauce. Add chicken to the mixture. Add in cooked pasta and toss. Serve warm with fresh grated cheese on top.
I was recently at Whole Foods and I couldn’t believe how much they were charging for a 6 oz container of pesto. I am NOT about to pay almost $5 for something that can be made in seconds and taste so much better fresh. I love fresh Spinach and since today also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to make my version of fresh pesto. After all its so green!! Spinach and basil makes a great combination. So delicious, so versatile!
Ingredients at a glance
Toast the Pine nuts in a dry skillet
Mix all ingredients in food processor
This is the glamour shot.
I love to store the pesto in individual packages, usually in a 1/2 cup or 1 cup servings along with the date.
Then I put the individual packs inside a bigger ziplock bag and freeze them. They keep for 3-4 months in the freezer and you can just heat it up to use it with pasta, as a pizza sauce, with chicken dishes. The possibilities are endless.
Here’s the recipe:
Spinach Basil Pesto
4 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup of fresh basil
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup olive oil
½ cup Parmiaggiano Reggiano cheese
In a dry skillet add the pine nuts and heat over medium high heat until lightly brown and toasted. Should only take about 4-5 minutes. Let cool.
Place all ingredients except for olive oil in a food processor and turn it on, in a slow drizzle begin to add olive oil through the dispenser until mixture is well incorporated. Take out and serve immediately with any type of pasta, with chicken or pizza sauce or can put in individual ziplock bags and freeze for up to 4 months. Cost per 1 cup serving (8 oz) is only 50 cents. A far cry from the price of $5 for 6 oz.
Mix together all dry ingredients and add water. Batter should be the consistency of pancake batter with no lumps.
Heat a small pan with oil for deep frying. Temperature should be about 350 degrees if you’re using a thermometer otherwise add a small drop of batter into the oil if it floats to the top fairly quickly, the oil is ready. Use medium heat so oil does not start to smoke. Dip spinach leaves one at a time into batter and scrape most of it off by dredging it along the side of the batter pan. The leaf should be coated but not heavily covered. Gently place into the hot oil. Fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side until a nice golden brown color. Take out of oil with a slotted spatula and place into a platter lined with paper towels to absorb extra oil. Serve warm with tamarind or cilantro Chutney or even ranch dressing if desired.