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Crispy and Smooth Spanakopitas
By Jim Bailey, a.ka. "The Yankee Chef"

I adore Greek cuisine and I have a lifelong ambition to someday visit that great
nation. The ancient culture has intrigued me since I was a child, the language
has grabbed my attention ever since I learned the Greek alphabet as a teen. The
food makes me want to fly there just to taste authentic Spanakopita. But if I
can't jump on a jet (yet), at least I can give you a recipe for this dish that is both
easy to prepare and delightful to enjoy.

I really shouldn't even classify this dish as a meal because in Greece, it is
mainly eaten as a snack, much like we enjoying chicken wings here in the U.S.
But I find that by adding a fresh, crisp salad and some crusty bread, it does
satisfy, especially when you don't want to feel bloated after a meal. (Remember
Thanksgiving and Christmas everyone?)

For a great change of pace, you don't have to stick with spinach. Cook up some
other leafy greens such as sorrel, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens,
collard greens or kohlrabi. As for the cheese, I wouldn't substitute anything for
feta, a Greek staple.

1 pound fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons dried dill
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 pound ricotta cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
1 (17-ounce) package of frozen phyllo sheets, thawed in refrigerator

Rinse and drain the spinach very, very well. Heat olive oil over medium high
heat in a large skillet. Sauté onions 2 minutes. Add spinach and dill and
continue cooking for 4 minutes, or until the spinach is just barely wilted. Add
the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Spinach mixture should be on the
dry side. Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta and eggs until just mixed. Add the
cooled spinach mixture and mix until just combined. Spray a 9 x 12 oven pan
with nonstick cooking spray.

Spray 2 sheets with cooking spray. Cut each sheet into 4 x 4-inch squares. Place
half of the squares onto prepared sheet pan and add 2 tablespoons of the
spinach mixture onto each square.

Whip ricotta cheese in a bowl to smooth. Dollop a tablespoon or two onto the
center of each spinach mound and cover with the remainder of the spinach
mixture so each square has an even amount. Press with a spatula to flatten.
Layer the remainder of the squares over the spinach mixture, making sure to
spray the top of each with cooking spray.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until the pita turns a deep golden
brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 individual servings, with 2 squares per person.

About the author: Jim Bailey is The Yankee Chef™. Bailey is a third generation chef, a
New England food historian and food columnist. His first in a series of cookbooks is due
out in January of 2013, titled The Yankee Chef. He would love to hear from anyone about
their old family recipes. Email Jim Bailey any questions or comments:
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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