Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Phillo, Phyllo, Pho Phum, I Smell Something Yum: Spanikopita

I grew up in a section of a city where the majority of the residents were either Irish or Italian.  I was surrounded by good Italian markets and restaurants.  The various foods did not seem terribly exotic, and as my grandparents spoke Italian around the house, the sound of the language was very familiar to me.  Fast forward to my young adulthood, and my first encounter with someone who pronounced ricotta cheese 'ri-COT-ta. Italians pronounce it re-GAWT-ta, so I was startled at this much more harsh sounding pronunciation of the word.  Similarly, to hear people talk about making something like my beloved lasagne with cottage cheese just about appals me.  I say this in the knowledge that any Greek person who sees the way I make the following dish will be similarly appalled.  And I apologize in advance; this is the best I could do.  I will say that although it is not in the least authentic, it is pretty darn good, and as long as you don't have any Greek people over for dinner,  it will totally satisfy.

Spanikopita (Spinach and Feta Pie)

1/2 package frozen Phyllo dough (usually there are 2 plastic wrapped packages in each box.  Use 1 of the plastic packages per recipe)
4 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 packages frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
10 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp red pepper flake
1 tsp lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

Mix the spinach and all the following ingredients well in a large bowl.  Unwrap the phyllo dough, and lay it out, covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying out.  Mix the melted butter and the olive oil in a bowl.  Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a 9 X 13 baking dish with the butter and oil mixture.  Lay 2 sheets of phyllo dough at a time at the bottom of the baking dish.  After each 2 sheets, drizzle and brush the butter and oil mixture.  Add 2 more sheets of phyllo dough, and repeat the process until you have used half of the sheets.  Place the spinach and cheese mixture evenly across the phyllo dough, and the add more phyllo sheets, 2 at a time, drizzling the oil and butter mixture between sheets, as before.  Repeat until you have used all the phyllo sheets, and then coat the top sheet liberally with the oil and butter mixture.  This can be done a day ahead, amking it a great weeknight dinner option.  Bake at 350 degrees for about a half hour, or until the phyllo dough is golden brown and crispy.  Slice and enjoy.

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