SPINACH - we have none in our garden this year, though we have had quite good crops in previous years. One year about this time, at the end of the season, our neighbor Vasso brought us a barrowload of spinach she had dug up to prepare for the summer planting. It was old and tough just like her but I picked out the better leaves and blanched and freezed them for all the family.
Now I bought a kilo of big and largely dirt-free spinach leaves. It still needed a good clean. The rule here is to wash all greens three times in a big bowl of water till there is no trace of dirt and sand left at the bottom. I took the spinach outside and filled up two bowls with the hose pipe. Still quite a job. Of course you could buy a packet of frozen spinach, use silver beet or swiss chard.
A favourite meal here, especially during Lent is spinach and rice (spanakorizo). Quick and easy, served with feta cheese and bread. It is my granddaughter Nelli's favourite dish along with lentils. That girl is born to be healthy. On her birthday she asked her mother to make her green beans and potatoes, another popular dish especially in the summer, with lots of fresh tomatoes. I don't think her siblings were overjoyed by the birthday meal though.
This time I made spanakopita (spinach pie) with 'country' filo pastry. Once the spinach is washed it really is an easy recipe, especially if, like I did this time, I use bought pastry.
There are quite a few variations and it can be made with or without cheese.
These are my ingredients.
-a kilo of fresh spinach, washed and cut into large pieces.
-a bunch of dill
-half a dozen fresh spring onions, or a big onion
-three or four leeks
-a little olive oil
-other fragrant greens. Whatever is popular in your area. They just give the pie a little more flavor
-half a kilo of feta cheese
-Enough filo pastry or short pastry to line a big baking dish, top and bottom
Clean and chop the spinach and other greens and put them in a hot pan till it wilts down a little. Then put it into a colander to drain. It will have lots of liquid. Water your plants with the liquid, it's full of vitamins - or drink it yourself.
Chop the leeks and onions and lightly fry in a little olive oil. Add the spinach, greens and chopped dill. Crumble the cheese and add that as well. Then stir in a beaten egg. It should be a great savoury mix, without having liquid on the bottom. Too much liquid will make the pastry go soggy.
You shouldn't need salt because the cheese is usually salty enough. But put in a good sprinkle of pepper.
Oil your baking dish, line the bottom with pastry and oil the pastry if it is filo. Add the spinach mix, top with more pastry and tuck it in nicely. Score the pastry and brush with a little water.
Cook about half an hour in a medium oven until nicely browned.
Eat while hot. Serve with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Last year our Australian visitors introduced us to another spinach recipe, this one made by their Croatian friend. Simple and very tasty. A delish accompaniment to any meal. It is called BLITVA. Croatia is just over our border. I am surprised it is not a favourite greek dish too.
Cube and boil potatoes for 10 minutes.
Chop the spinach and wilt for a few minutes.
Brown some chopped garlic in olive oil. Add the potatoes and the spinach, put in a little salt and toss and turn for a few minutes to mix up all those flavours. You may need to add a little water too.
Serve hot with meat or just as a side dish. Wonderful and very healthy.
Kali orexi (bon appetit)