Friday, August 29, 2014

Cooking and Entertaining: Spanakopita

Yum-a corner piece!

Even though I’m a veteran cook, I’ve been enjoying taking cooking classes lately-they revive my passion for cooking and teach me new things.  The latest was a Greek cooking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education-it was a fabulous experience!  We made (and ate!) Pastitsio, Greek Chicken, Greek String Beans and Spanakopita. 

I had wanted to make Spanakopita for a while, but thought it was too time consuming.  Instructor Diane Manteca showed us Spanakopita doesn’t take that long to prepare.  She was generous enough to allow me to share her recipe.  It’s one of the best Spanakopitas I’ve had, and I’m excited we can eat it on a regular basis!

The ingredients

I added the spinach in 4 or 5 batches

Remove as much water possible from the spinach before adding it
to the egg/cheese mixture

The buttered phyllo sheets in the pan.  I used a 9" x 9" pan because
my phyllo sheets were too short for a 9" x 13" pan.  I had enough of
the filling left over to make half of another spanakopita.

Adding the first layer of the spinach mixture

Ready for the oven

The finished pie!

(adapted from Diane Manteca’s recipe)

20 oz.  fresh baby spinach
1  medium onion, diced
1/2 C.  Romano cheese, grated
2 Tbsp.  olive oil
1 tsp.  fresh dill, chopped
1/2 C.  butter, melted (more or less if necessary)
1 lb.  feta cheese, crumbled
8 oz.  cottage cheese
4  eggs, slightly beaten
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 pkg.  phyllo

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Heat a large pan over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and onion.  Season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté until soft and tender.  Add the spinach to the pan (in batches, if necessary) and cook until wilted.  Remove the mixture from the pan and strain (I used a cheesecloth to remove as much water as possible).  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the cottage, feta, and Romano cheeses.  Add the cooled spinach mixture.  Set aside.

Remove the phyllo from the package, and place upon a dampened tea towel.  Cover with another dampened tea towel.  Brush the bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” baking pan with butter.

Place a phyllo sheet over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, and then brush with butter.  Repeat with 5 more phyllo sheets.  Place half the spinach mixture over the phyllo, spreading it to evenly cover the bottom of the phyllo.  Add 4 phyllo sheets atop the spinach mixture, brushing each sheet with butter before adding another.  Place the remaining spinach mixture in the pie and top with 6 more phyllo sheets, buttering between each layer.

Trim the phyllo to about 1 inch higher than the top of the pie and fold in the edges to seal.  Butter the top and edges of the pie with butter.  Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. 

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