The green leaves of spinach, Swiss chard and turnips are exceptionally good for you. This recipe from Wickedfood Cooking School’s Greek cooking class, uses spinach, together with feta cheese and pinenuts to make a delicious Mediterranean-inspired pie – Spanakopita. These spinach leaves can be substituted with either Swiss chard or turnip leaves. Serve with a simple rocket salad on the side, and for a more substantial meal, simply-roasted chicken or pan-fried fish fillets.
225g packet ready-made filo pastry (you’ll need about ten sheets measuring about 34cm x 30cm), defrosted
85g butter, melted, for brushing
2T olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced finely
600g baby leaf spinach
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
85g pine nuts, toasted
3 medium free-range eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. You’ll need a non-stick lipless baking sheet about 34cm x 30cm.
- Remove the filo pastry sheets from their packaging and place them on a clean work surface. Keep them covered with a clean, damp cloth while you’re working, to stop the pastry from drying out.
- For the filling, heat 1T oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced the onion and gently fry for 5-6 minutes over a medium heat, until lightly browned and softened.
- Heat the remaining 1T oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan/pot. Add the spinach and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes, until it wilts. When the spinach is cooked, place it in a colander set over a bowl to drain and cool. Discard any liquid that comes out.
- Remove the fried onions from the frying pan and place on a plate to cool.
- With a sharp knife, trim the filo pastry sheets to a size just smaller than your baking sheet. Place a sheet of filo pastry on the baking sheet and brush with some of the melted butter, using a pastry brush. Repeat with four more filo sheets, brushing with butter as you go. This will be the base of the pie. Cover the remaining five filo pastry sheets with a clean cloth.
- When the spinach has cooled, place it into a large bowl. Grate in some fresh nutmeg and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the sultanas, the cooled onions and the pine nuts.
- Crumble the feta into the mixture and mix together well. Beat the eggs together in a clean bowl. Add some of the egg mixture to the spinach mixture. Add just enough so that the mixture is moist but not runny (you may not use all of the beaten egg).
- To assemble the pie, spoon the spinach and feta mixture onto the prepared filo pastry base. Leave an empty ‘frame’ around the edge of about 4cm on each side.
- Fold the four edges of the pastry in towards the middle to enclose the filling.
- To make the top of the pie, trim the remaining five sheets of filo pastry to the size of the base with its folded-in edges. Brush one of the filo sheets with some of the remaining melted butter and place on top of the spinach and cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining four sheets, brushing with melted butter as you go.
- Brush the top layer of filo pastry with the last of the melted butter. Lightly score the top of the pie with a sharp knife. Bake it in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the filo pastry crust is a deep golden-brown.
- Serve slices of the pie with a rocket salad.
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Wickedfood Cooking School, Sunninghill – (011) 234-3252 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wickedfood Cooking School in Johannesburg runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built cooking studios in Johannesburg. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). This team building venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our classes are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.