Monday, June 1, 2009

Puff pastry spanakopita

The first time I had spanakopita was at a Greek restaurant outside of Waco, where I went to undergrad. It was love at first bite. Traditionally, it is a phyllo dough pie filled with spinach and feta. One of these days I will overcome my fear of phyllo dough enough to get some and make some real spanakopita. It won't actually be that difficult to work with, and I will feel very silly for my years of not using it. But until then, I feel like puff pastry dough is a good substitute. This is one of Jon's very favorite foods that I make, so I made it for his birthday feast. I actually prefer to make it with red Russian kale instead of spinach, but Jon prefers the spinach. Since it was his birthday, that's what I went with this time. Of course, the time I choose to take a picture of it is the time the kitchen is too hot so the puff pastry starts sticking to itself and doesn't look very attractive. Rest assured that usually this is gorgeous.

Puff pastry spanakopita:
2 tsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of smoked paprika
1 bunch of spinach or red Russian kale, about 1 lb, washed and roughly chopped (for kale, remove the hard part of the ribs)
2 eggs
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled (I prefer the kind with black pepper)
1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add the nutmeg and paprika. Smell it. It's good. Throw in the spinach or kale and cover to let it steam/wilt. When it has wilted, add the eggs, one at a time, and scramble into the spinach mixture. Add the cheese, stir to combine, and remove from heat.
Lightly oil a large baking dish (mine is 9x13, but it doesn't have to be that large). Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and place it at the bottom of the dish. Spread the spinach mixture evenly on top. Unfold the other sheet and place on top. If you want to, you can crimp the sides. It's never worked out for me, and I don't care that sometimes the filling leaks out a bit. Bake in a 350 F oven until it's golden brown on top and doesn't have any underdone spots. Start checking around 20 minutes. It varies a lot based on how thawed the puff pastry was and how thick the filling is. I must confess that we often get impatient and eat it before it's all the way done. It's still good that way.

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