Spanakopita – with its layers of cheesy spinachy goodness and buttery, delicious pastry – is my absolute favourite Greek dish. Plus, let me tell you, a Geordie saying the word ‘spanakopita’ sounds utterly amazing, like a fridge full of syllables falling down a flight of stairs.
It’s really quite a surprise that we haven’t taken a holiday to Greece, given our love of the food, culture and dark baleful eyes. I’m not suggesting Paul has cause to fret taking me to the land of absolute Adonises, but I’d be shacked up with a hairy-backed farmhand before the light had faded from the fasten-your-seatbelt sign on the aeroplane. The only time Paul’s thrown a plate in high emotion is when I accidentally forgot to serve his side salad directly into our kitchen bin.
It is an absolute knacker to try and make a slimming version of a spanakopita – so, although we’ve reduced the fat and calories in this recipe, we’re using our ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ motto, and combining it with the ethos that you’ll probably eat two portions the same as us and at least this way it’s not too deleterious to your slimming.
500g (1lb 2oz) frozen chopped spinach
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
150g (5½oz/¾ cup) cottage cheese, drained, so the curds remain
50g (1¾oz/⅓ cup) reduced-fat feta cheese
50g (1¾oz/½ cup) grated Parmesan cheese
A tiny pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 × 240g (8½oz) sheet of light puff pastry
1 Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7.
2 Place the spinach in a colander and run warm water over it until fully defrosted. Squeeze out as much moisture from the spinach as you can, and set aside.
3 Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat and spray with a little oil.
4 Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until softened.
5 In a bowl mix together the spinach, cottage cheese curds, feta, Parmesan, 2 eggs, salt and pepper.
6 Line a 22cm (8½ inch) baking dish with baking paper. Divide the pastry into two halves. Take one half and roll it out so that it is big enough to line the baking dish. Lay it over the dish and trim the edges. Spread over the spinach mixture. Roll out the rest of the pastry to place it on top, then crimp the edges with the back of a fork to seal. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top to glaze.
7 Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is bronzed and handsome, like your authors.
Notes from Paul
• We like to serve this with a tomato and chickpea salad – take a good mixture of tomatoes, chopped with 1 large shallot, a pinch of sumac, some crushed garlic, a tablespoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper – leave to sit for an hour and serve warm.
• You can swap the puff pastry for more traditional filo. And chuck some sultanas in with the spinach and cheese too if you’re feeling decadent.
Extract from Twochubbycubs The Cookbook: 100 Tried and Tested Slimming Recipes, published by Yellow Kite, £20.00
Photography by Haaha