As a little background, I started this blog as a kind of personal food diary. I’ve found that being a mom has made me completely incapable of staying organized or remembering much of anything without detailed documentation, which meant that keeping track of recipes was becoming a huge challenge. So one day I decided that if I post my recipes and reactions on the internet, then I can’t lose them! Along the way it occurred to me that there might be 1 or 2 people out there who are also interested in my recipes, so I started writing to a theoretical audience, although, despite the occasional person who assures me that they do read this site, I am still somewhat convinced that I am talking to myself! The reason I’m giving this context now is that this post is an example of how this blog is more of a food diary than tried and true recipe recommendations like some other food blogs.
Recently, my friend Kristin at Brooklyn Forager posted a recipe for spanakopita that looked interesting. I have not historically been a huge fan of feta, but recently it has been growing on me, and spanakopita seemed like such a wonderful way of eating spinach. The munchkin really likes feta and I have had luck with spinach in a few recipes for her, so I even thought this could make a good dish for the whole family. Plus, I know Kristin is a great cook and my last recipe from Brooklyn Forager was a big success so I was excited to try something else!
The first pitfall, though, was that I couldn’t find phyllo dough that meets my definition of wholesome – even after scouring 2 grocery stores and 2 health food stores, I could only find it with scary chemicals and preservatives. But I was already committed to trying the recipe, so I figured I’d get the scary kind and if we liked the outcome I’d worry about finding something better next time. I also wanted to try this with frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh for simplicity, so I needed to adjust the recipe somewhat.
The end result was just ok, but I can’t tell whether that was because I just don’t like spanakopita, I screwed something up, or it was too healthy! The flavors were nice – I could definitely detect the mint and the hint of red pepper, but there was something about the texture that just didn’t excite me. Hubby’s biggest complaint was that I made it as a main course and he thought it was too light – he would have liked it better as a side, and he actually ended up using the filling on day two in an omlet, which worked really well. So despite the fact that this is not the most enthusiastic endorsement, I wanted to document the recipe and put it out there in case any of you want to play with it and see if you can make it work for you 🙂
adapted from Brooklyn Forager
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 small sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (this yielded very mild heat; feel free to use up to 1/4 tsp as per original recipe)
12-16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed out in a towel
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1 large egg white
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
4 sheets phyllo dough (whole wheat if you can find it), 13×18 inches each
Additional olive oil in mister or spray
Preheat oven to 375.
Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and pepper flakes and saute for about 2 minutes. Add spinach and sautee for a few minutes to heat through and combine with onion mixture. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool while prepping other ingredients. When mixture has cooled, add dill, mint and egg white. Mix well. Fold in feta cheese and set aside.
Mist an 8×8 inch casserole dish or baking pan with olive oil. Cut or gently tear each phyllo sheet into 4 strips lengthwise. Place 3-4 strips across casserole, overlapping slightly and letting phyllo hang over both ends of dish. Place an additional 3-4 strips going in the opposite direction. Mist strips with olive oil. Continue layering until all strips are used, misting each layer.
Spoon spinach mixture into center of dish and gently spread evenly across phyllo. Fold strips over to cover all spinach. Mist lighly with olive oil.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly brown and crispy. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Makes about 4 lunch portions or 6-8 side portions