This dinner was incredible, if I do say so myself. I know that’s not humble, but this meal changed the way I view vegetarian. The flavors melded perfectly, the stock gravy from the peppers and my mother’s recipe for tzatziki supplied the extra fresh kick, and the granita was light, sweet and tart, and a perfect dessert as winter turns into spring. I’m going to make the granita all the time for myself this summer, it’s like the best version of Italian ice you’ve ever had, and it’s incredibly easy to make.
The result: 1 pan of spanakopita
- 2 lbs frozen spinach, thawed and drained as much as possible
- Olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, season well!
- 1/2 lb feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1.5 sticks butter, melted
- 1 lb filo pastry dough
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- Fresh dill
First, I’ve read a lot of places that frozen spinach is one of those items that fresh does not make a difference and just adds more stuff for you to do. Secondly, to keep my butter melted, which is very important, I boiled some water, put it in a bowl, and put the bowl of butter on top of the hot water. The butter and it’s consistency is what helps the dough be so flaky when baked. Voila! Preheat oven to 375. Heat some olive oil and saute scallions for about 2-3 minutes, add parsley, plenty of salt and pepper and saute for another 1 or 2 minutes, remove from heat. Stir the feta and eggs together and then combine with the spinach, sauteed mixture, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh dill, I used just slightly less dill than parsley.
Brush a 9 x 13″ pan with butter, unroll phyllo and keep covered with a kitchen towel to maintain moisture, otherwise it will dry quickly. Lay a sheet in the pan, brush with butter, repeat 8 times. Place an even layer of spinach mixture on top of the bottom phyllo layer. Then put another 8 layers of phyllo dough on top of the spinach mixture, brushing each layer with butter. Don’t drench the phyllo, but use a fair amount to evenly cover each layer. Butter the top layer liberally to create a beautiful golden cover. Cut through the first couple layers of phyllo to show the triangle shape desired and bake for 40-50 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes, cut through to completely form triangles, and serve.
The result: Lemon, Grapefruit, and Orange Granita
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup plus sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
- Pinch salt
- 1 lemon, zesting
Stir water and sugar over high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and whisk in the juices. Pour into a pan that can be placed in the freezer. Cover and freeze, stirring occasionally, until liquid become slushy. From there on, use a fork to scrape the mixture every hour, scraping the ice crystals around the edge and throughout that are forming. Needs at least 5 hours, but can be done a couple days in advance, or over night, though consistency will not be exactly the same. To serve, zest lemon over mixture and enjoy. Serve with mint leaf for garnish. Soooooo refreshing.