Friday, March 18, 2011

Spinach, Kale and Feta Pie

It's high season for leafy greens, and today's box was over-flowing with many beautiful examples. You just may want to enjoy a lovely salad made from red leaf lettuce, mizuna, spinach, parsley, radish, carrots, and one of last week's avocados that may be ripe by now. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a sprinkle of fine olive oil, some crusty bread and a glass of wine might be the perfect dinner this evening.

If you you'd like to have a little more adventure in the kitchen, try this Spinach, Kale and Feta pie based on Spanakopita, a traditional Middle Eastern dish. It's a little bit of a production, but well worth the effort.

2 T olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1-1/2 lbs spinach and kale, washed, mostly dried and chopped
1/2 C chopped green onion
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
1/3 lb crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
melted butter (about 1/2 stick, more if necessary)
10 sheets (12" x 18") phyllo*

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" x 12" baking dish. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent, about 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't let the onion brown.

3. Add the chopped spinach and kale and saute until well-wilted. Add the green onions and parsley and continue cooking, turning the heat down, if necessary, until all or most of the water has evaporated. The mixture should still be moist, not completely dry. Cool slightly.

4. Add the crumbled feta, ricotta, and eggs. Season with freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine. Set the filling aside while you prepare the phyllo.

5. Take 10 12"x 18" pieces of fresh phyllo dough. Cut them in half to make 20 12" x 9" pieces, and stack them. [Or cut phyllo to fit your pan. Whatever size, you'll need 20 sheets cut to fit.] Phyllo dries out easily, so work quickly and keep the phyllo stack covered with a dish cloth while you work.

6. Line the buttered baking dish with 1 piece of phyllo. Brush some melted butter on the phyllo, then stack another piece of phyllo on top and brush it with butter. Repeat until you've put 10 sheets of phyllo in the pan.

7. Spread the prepared filling on the buttered phyllo. Smooth the top, then cover with the remaining 10 pieces of phyllo, brushing more melted butter in between each piece and on top.

8. Bake at 350 until the top is golden brown and the center is cooked through about 30-40 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot, room temperature, or cold. Leftovers, if there are any, make a nice lunch; or they freeze well, too.

**Phyllo, also called filo dough, is available frozen in most markets and fresh in some Middle eastern markets. If you are using frozen dough, be sure to defrost it thoroughly in the refrigerator before you use it.

At the pick-up this afternoon, I heard that some avocados are taking a long time to get ripe. That's normal. However, you can hasten ripening by putting avocados in a brown paper bag with a banana. Ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas which is a ripening agent. Bananas are picked unripe, so they emit a fair amount of ethylene gas while they ripen in your fruit basket. You can capture this natural ripening agent and put it to good use with your avocados. It'll still take days to ripen a hard avocado, but you can cut the ripening time by a third or even in half.

This week's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: red leaf lettuce, kale, spinach, mizuna, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, Easter radishes, yellow carrots, Cilantro, parsley, tangerines and a Zutano avocado.

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: those divine satsuma mandarines and 2 Haas avocados.

And from Silver Lake Farms: radish shoots and 2 kinds of chard shoots. Yum!



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