Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mid-week Crispy Spinach Pie

I get teased a lot. When I was 3, I sat on a bucket, naked at the beach.  My father waited my entire life to be able to show my fiancee that picture. Nobody gets my jokes. My parents question my taste in movies. My parents also tease me about my grocery shopping habits. According to them, I come to visit, buy strange ingredients and then abandon them in my mother's cupboards.
(Hey Dad, I know a picture of me actually sitting on that bucket exists, but I'm not about to put that up here!)

I will admit my first adventure into the realm of phyllo dough was such an instance.  I had come home from college determined to share delicious Greek spinach pies with my parents and left with half a package forlorn in my mother's freezer.  I wonder if she ever did use it up. 

While I can't claim that that attempt at spinach pie that evening won over any converts, my most recent attempt did. The original recipe is for four people. The two of us devoured the thing before it could even cool down. And did I mention you can whip it up in a matter of minutes?  For those new to phyllo dough, this recipe is like sitting on the steps in the shallow end.  You don't have to dive off the diving board yet.  And to solve the problem of leftover phyllo dough, just make an extra pie and freeze it - that is if you can keep the others from discovering it first.

As you eat it, let the taste take your imagination on a trip to Greece with its sun and beaches and if on this trip to the beach your kid sits naked on a bucket, be nice. Don't take a picture.

Mid-week quick and easy spinach pie, adapted from BBC Good Food
Suggested substitutions: If fresh spinach is in season, wilt 200 g of it instead of using frozen spinach.  A mix of Greek antipasti, such as roasted eggplant and bell peppers would be nice instead of the sundried tomatoes or almonds instead of pine nuts. Puff pastry or crescent roll dough, omitting the brushed on oil, can be substituted for the phyllo dough. 

Notes: Go easy on any salt you add - Feta and sun dried tomatoes both usually have quite a bit. If you add too much, the pie will be overly salty.

Servings: 2 as main dish, 4 as side dish

Prep time: 10 min
Oven time: 30 min

~350 g / ~12 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & well-squeezed
100 g / 3.5 oz. sun dried tomatoes in olive oil 
100 g / 3.5 oz vegetarian Feta, crumbled
100 g / 3.5 oz pine nuts, roughly chopped
2 organic, free-range eggs, slightly beaten
125 g / 4.5 oz phyllo pastry dough (approx. 3-4 sheets)
1 Tbs. each, Oregano &  thyme, dried
Salt & pepper, to tase

22 cm / 9-inch round pie pan or spring form

Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F
  1. Mix spinach, sun dried tomatoes, cheese, pine nuts, eggs, spices, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Carefully unroll the pastry and cover with a moist, but not soaked, cloth towel or kitchen roll. Take one sheet and brush one side with oil from the tomatoes. Place the sheet, oil side down, in the pie pan so that the ends are hanging over the edges.
  3. Repeat with a second sheet, placing it oil side down on top of the first pastry sheet, just a bit further around the pan so that the edges don't match up but the sheets overlap. Continue with a third or fourth sheet.
  4. Plop the spinach filling into the middle and pull the sides of the pastry to the middle, scrunch it together, making certain the filling is covered.
  5. Brush the entire thing with a bit more oil and pop it in the oven for about 30 min. or until crisp and brown.
© 2010 Nicole

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