Monday, May 13, 2013

Let them eat...Greek! Clean Spanakopita Deliciousness

I wish I was Greek. The food. The culture. The food. I don't get cravings for Italian food or any other heritage-y food (I don't know anyone who craves German food except maybe my Grandpa. Beer, absolutely. Pretzels, yes please. Food, not really.) But do I ever get a hankering for all things Greek. Give me some feta and some olives and I am a happy girl. Grape leaves. Mmmmm.

But one of my all time favorites is spanakopita. The spinach. The flaky crust. Yum yum yum. So when I saw a recipe for spanakopita casserole on Clean Eating Magazine's website, (it's a pretty awesome site!) I pinned it immediatly. Because this is something I could eat. All. The. Time. And it's clean? whoot! I love meals that are healthy but still feel like I am being a little bit bad. Sure this isn't the greasy, yummy spanakopita from the street cart at the Art Festival downtown in the summer. Washed down with a giant ($10) beer from the cart next to it. But it rocks. The spinach is yummy and mixed with some creamy feta. The sweet pepper, mint and dill gives it lots of flavor.

Yes it breaks my no animal products rule by adding feta cheese. And I did use feta this time. I didn't have time to make some vegan "feta." For me it is all things in moderation. If I am watching my animal product intake and I have a little cheat (like some feta) it is still so much better than where I was a year ago. (Seriously, I had no idea how much dairy I actually ate until I tried to cut it out of my diet. Crazy business.)

But, oh, the spanakopita goodness - Mine wasn't as "clean" as it could be. I could only find one type of phyllo and it wasn't whole wheat.  (Small town, limited grocery options.) I also couldn't find fresh mint so I used dried and didn't really measure it. I just dumped some in the spinach mixture till it smelled amazing. No fresh dill either but dried worked just fine for the dill too.  I also didn't mist everything with (clean) cooking spray or cut the phyllo into strips. I just layered it in the pan and it turned out just fine.

I would actually really like to try this with some tofu "feta" which is super yummy and I am also obsessed with on my salads.

And I clearly need to work on my food photo taking skills as my flaky phyllo crust looks kind of like cheesy chicken. Oh well. Here is to improvement all around and cheers to Meatless Mondays!

Here is the recipe and what it was supposed to look like....

By Diane Welland MS RD
Serves: 6
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large bags fresh spinach (9 oz each) or 36 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 4 sheets whole-wheat phyllo dough (13 x 18 inches each; Try: The Fillo Factory)
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add pepper and onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add spinach in batches, waiting 2 or 3 minutes between intervals; cover tightly and cook, tossing frequently, for about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain spinach mixture in a colander, removing any excess liquid, before placing it in a large bowl; set aside. When spinach mixture is cool, mix in dill, mint and egg white. Then fold in feta until well blended. Set aside.
  3. Working quickly, roll phyllo out onto a clean work surface. Carefully cut each sheet lengthwise into approximately 4 3-inch-wide pieces. (TIP: Or cut each sheet in half lengthwise, then half each of the 2 sections again to create 4 equal pieces.) Place 3 or 4 strips across the center of a 1 1/2-qt or 9 x 9-inch casserole dish misted with cooking spray, leaving about 3 to 4 inches of excess hanging over on both ends. The strips should be overlapping slightly. Mist strips with cooking spray. Turn the casserole dish clockwise and place 3 or 4 strips across the original layer, at a 90-degree angle. Mist strips with cooking spray. Continue turning and layering until all strips have been used, about 4 layers in total, misting with cooking spray after each layer.
  4. Spoon spinach mixture into center of phyllo-covered dish. Fold phyllo hanging over edges into the center of spinach mixture, covering the top (no spinach should be visible). Mist with cooking spray.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly brown and crispy. Let casserole sit for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Cut into 6 pieces and serve. TIP: Phyllo can be cut with a knife, kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter.

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