Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spanakopita Pizza

                  Greece was our country of study recently, so I wanted to make a dish to honor it.  I chose to make my own version of Greece's famous snack, Spanakopita.  Spanakopita, for a long time was the only way anyone could get me to eat spinach.  I remember eating it for the first time when I was young and still living with my parents.  We would go to a local diner, which was owned by a Greek family.  Every dish would come accompanied by a piece of Spanakopita.

                   Spanakopita is a spinach pie, in the odd chance you don't already know.  Now, I had never seen spinach served that way.  I only ever associated Popeye with spinach.  My mom never cooked it at home, that I recall.  So my vision of it was of Popeye popping a can of spinach and scarfing it down.  No matter how much I admired his cartoon strength, no way would I ever eat spinach.  So now this little pie is placed on a dish in front of me.  It is wrapped in phyllo, which I loved and associated with dessert.  I decided to try it because how bad could it be if it is wrapped in a flaky pastry.  I am so glad I did because that was when I learned to eat spinach, even though it was partially hidden with other flavors.  But if that was a way I learned to appreciate a new vegetable, there was nothing wrong with that.  Today of course I will put it in pizza and quiches.  No, can't eat it raw though. (A personal preference).

                   Spinach was actually brought to Europe during the Ottoman Empire.  It was originally grown in Persia.  It was a used in dishes during lent when meat was not permitted.

                   Phyllo dough was actually created in Turkey and probably brought to Greece during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. 

                   The Greeks managed to turn these 2 ingredients together to make a tasty dish.  Now the dish I am presenting is not a traditional Spanakopita, since I am also adding mozzarella cheese.  It still honors the basics of the dish though.

  1. 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
  2. 1 small onion, diced
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 Tbl olive oil
  5. 1 Tbl chopped dill
  6. 3/4 Cup mozzarella cheese
  7. 6 oz. feta cheese
  8. 6 sheets of phyllo dough
  9. salt to taste
  10. butter, or cooking spray for spraying the phyllo sheets.
You will first want to defrost the spinach and squeeze as much water out as possible.  Then place it in a mixing bowl to cool.

In a frying pan saute the onion with the olive oil on medium heat.  When the onion has started to turn translucent, add the garlic and saute for a minute more.  Then add the mixture to the spinach.

Add the dill, and the cheeses.  Mix together.  You can now add salt to taste.  Since there is no egg in this, that makes it easy.  If you want to use an egg, add it after you taste.  Since feta is salty, you will want to do this according to your taste so you don't add extra salt.  Mix together.

Prepare a baking dish, by spraying it down with cooking spray.  I used a 9 x 11 inch baking dish.

Layer 2 sheets of the phyllo, spraying in between with cooking spray or brushing with melted butter.  Brush the top layer as well.  Then add half of the spinach mixture  and evenly coat the phyllo.  Then layer another 2 sheets of phyllo, also brushing with butter or spraying cooking spray between each sheet.  Brush the top sheet.  Add the remaining spinach and top it with the remaining 2 sheets of phyllo.  You need to also brush butter between and on top of the sheets.  Butter will make it tastier, but spray might reduce your fat intake.

Place it in a preheated 350F oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top becomes golden brown.


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