Spanakotiropita with a TwistPosted: January 20, 2011
I’m a novice when it comes to Mediterranean cooking. I have never traveled to Greece or Italy or Southern France; I have only the romantic notions of the region instilled through literature and my experiences patronizing Mediterranean restaurants in Chicago. Last year I fell in love with a beautiful Greek cookbook that practically winked at me from the library shelf, Vefa’s Kitchen. The book inspired me to try a few things for myself with its excellent writing and gorgeous photographs.
I settled on spanakotiropita, the classic spinach and cheese pie of Greek legend. My first go went remarkably well for an initial effort. I have to confess, I cut a few corners. There is simply no way, in my pint-sized kitchen, where there exists a meager one square foot of available counter space, and a moderately sized, wobbly kitchen table to do all my chopping and mixing, that I can roll out footlong sheets of phyllo. I used frozen phyllo, but the recipe still required that each layer be painstakingly brushed with olive oil. The spinach was cleaned, chopped, boiled, strained and squeezed of excess liquid, the dill was washed and chopped finely, mixed with thinly sliced scallions and slowly folded into the egg and feta mixture for even distribution.
The end product supported the authenticity of the recipe. The phyllo flaked perfectly, the spinach was soft without being spongy, the feta dotted the filling in even striations. The seemingly simple, rustic dish took far more effort than anticipated, but darn if it didn’t pay off.
It has been nearly a year since my last spinach pie, so a week ago I went ahead and bought phyllo dough, spinach, feta, dill, and scallions with the intention of recreating the magic. Exhaustion and hunger got the better of me by the middle of the week and I decided to make a frittata variation instead. This crustless wonder retains the spirit of the original with about half the work and is just as delectable and filling. Added bonus: it’s gluten free!*
Two cups spinach, either frozen or fresh will do, chopped, Boiled a few minutes until softened, drained and squeezed of excess moisture.
2-3 thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbsp chopped, fresh dill
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3-4 Tbsp milk
salt and pepper to taste
Combine eggs and milk and whisk until blended. In a separate bowl, combine spinach, feta and herbs. Slowly fold in the spinach mixture to avoid clumps. Pre-heat oven to 375.
In a lightly oiled 9×9 baking dish or small cast iron skillet, add the mixture and cook over medium high heat for 5mins to brown the bottom. Then transfer pan to the oven and continue cooking for 10-15mins, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
This is truly divine and delicious. It makes for an elegant brunch or a quick dinner.
*I do not have any allergies or problems with gluten, but I’ve heard that too much gluten is a bad thing. I personally try to cut back on wheat.