Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Spanokopita

If you’ve been following this blog – or if you know me at all! – you know that I am a very fussy eater.  Very fussy!

The only cooked vegetables I typically eat are peas and corn – and I prefer my peas raw and my corn popped.  If you count potatoes as a veg, then, yes, I do eat cooked potatoes.  But I’m talking about veggie-veggies… green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and such.  

Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers can be lumped in here as well, even if they are technically fruits.  Although, I do like cucumbers a bit.

I will eat almost any vegetable raw.  I love salads.  Not crazy about tomatoes (unless they are in a sauce) or peppers (at all).  But spinach and cabbage and carrots and broccoli and cauliflower, etc. tossed with lettuce and cheese cubes and boiled egg and nuts or seeds and a bit of yummy dressing and I’m in heaven.

Cooked carrots, beans, broccoli, cabbage…  Yuck.  You couldn’t pay me enough to eat a brussel sprout.  I’m not adventurous enough to know if I’d eat asparagus or squash.  Getting past the veggie part takes a lot. 

And spinach?  Well, raw in a salad is fine.  I can handle that.  If it’s chopped up really fine, I don’t mind a good spinach dip.  But cooked?  Yeah, that’s just not going to happen.

A few weeks ago, my niece was staying with me while her parents were in China.  She came home from the babysitter’s house one afternoon with a little container filled with Spanokopita.  She was so excited and suggested that we have some with our dinner that night.  I had no idea what Spanokopita was, but pretended to be as excited as she was. 
As I prepared our dinner – can’t recall what it was now – my niece kept reminding me about the Spanokopita.  I assured her that it would be on the table.  She was probably just happy to have something for dinner that wasn’t… well, cooked by me.  I’m not much of a cook either.  When we sat down to eat, my niece reached immediately for the Spanokopita.

“Have one, Aunty Toni,” she said, so enthusiastically.  “They’re really good.”

Not wanting to set a bad example, I took a small piece from the container and placed it on my plate.  I used my knife and fork to cut a corner off so I could see what was inside.  It was green.

Green mystery food and I don’t have much of a track record.  “What is it?” I asked my niece.

“I don’t know.  But it’s yummy!”

She’s seven.  And she’s eating – willingly! – food she can’t even identify.  What’s up with that?
I actually made these all by myself.  
I sniffed at the corner I had cut off.  It did smell good.  So I closed my eyes and plunged the fork into my mouth, fully prepared to make an exit to the washroom to spit it out if I had to.

I stayed right where I was, chewing thoughtfully. 

It was good.  It was really good.

I still didn’t know what it was, but I heard myself telling my niece to ask her babysitter for the recipe. 

After dinner, I Googled Spanokopita.  Imagine my surprise to find it was spinach.  Wow!  Must have been the feta cheese, nutmeg and garlic that won me over.

What a delicious treat!  The recipe is now tweaked and safely recorded in my recipe box.
Spanokopita (Toni style)
Phyllo pastry sheets
One package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
One package cream cheese, softened
One tub feta cheese
Two eggs
Salt, pepper, garlic to taste. 
A pinch of nutmeg – optional
Put everything (except the Phyllo pastry) into a food processor and blend the crap out of it.  Follow the instructions on the phyllo pastry package for making triangles.  Use a good dollop of the filling – almost a tbsp. or so – for each triangle.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. 
There is enough filling for two packages of phyllo pastry using two sheets per piece of spanakopita, more or less.  (About 72  pieces)

Spanakopita is a Greek dish, by the way.  

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