Kamis, 02 Februari 2012

Greek Spinach and Feta Pie

Success! This is the first time that I worked with phyllo dough and it didn't break! It is also the first time that I actually thawed the dough as the packaging instructed (I thought I should mention that...) The recipe might look complicated, but it is not. Most of the time it takes to make this recipe is needed for brushing the dough layers with the melted butter. The filling could even be prepared a day in advance. It is a nice dish to bring to a party or potluck and can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.

Greed Spinach and Feta Pie (Spanakopita)
(from Cooks Illustrated)

Why this recipe works:
Microwaving, chopping, and then ridding mature fresh spinach of excess water gave our spanakopita recipe bold spinach flavor. To buffer the assertiveness of feta and to add textural contrast, we added Greek yogurt to the spanakopita recipe. We chose to bake our spanakopita on a baking sheet. Its sides were short enough to allow moisture to escape, crisping the phyllo dough’s bottom crust.

  • Filling
  • 2 (10-ounce) bags curly leaf spinach, rinsed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 12 ounces feta cheese, rinsed, patted dry, and crumbled into fine pieces (about 3 cups)
  • ¾ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt 
  • 4 medium scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill leaves
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  •  teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Phyllo Layers
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ lb. (14 by 9-inch) phyllo, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1 ½ ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)

1.FOR THE FILLING: Place spinach and water in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with large dinner plate. Microwave on high power until spinach is wilted and decreased in volume by half, about 5 minutes. Using potholders, remove bowl from microwave and keep covered, 1 minute. Carefully remove plate and transfer spinach to colander set in sink. Using back of rubber spatula, gently press spinach against colander to release excess liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer spinach to clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess water. Place drained spinach in large bowl. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. (Filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)
2.FOR THE PHYLLO LAYERS: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using pastry brush, lightly brush 14 by 9-inch rectangle in center of parchment with melted butter to cover area same size as phyllo. (If your phyllo is bigger than 14 x 9 like mine was just cut it with a pizza cutter to the right size) Lay 1 phyllo sheet on buttered parchment, and brush thoroughly with melted butter. Repeat with 9 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter (you should have total of 10 layers of phyllo).
3.Spread spinach mixture evenly over phyllo, leaving ¼-inch border on all sides. Cover spinach with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter and sprinkling each with about 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese. Lay 2 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each with butter (these layers should not be sprinkled with Pecorino).
4.Working from center outward, use palms of your hands to compress layers and press out any air pockets. Using sharp knife, score pie through the top 3 layers of phyllo into 24 equal pieces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). Bake until phyllo is golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Slide spanakopita, still on parchment, to cutting board. Cut into squares and serve.

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