Friday, April 29, 2011

What to do with all those greens?

Have you noticed, by chance, the sheer volume of greens out there? The depth and breadth? And it's not just the ones you think of, the ones that come uniquely whole which you know are greens (like chard, and kale); it's also the ones that come attached at the top of other things! Beet greens! Kohlrabi greens! Right now, there are so, so many.  My go to for all of these is to dice them and saute them in olive oil with garlic, onion and salt and pepper, and then toss them with pasta, lemon juice, and either feta or parmesan.  But even varying my types of pasta, and alternating between feta and parmesan, and using balsamic instead of lemon, well, after a few weeks of greens, we start to have a little fatigue over here. So I took one of my very favorite spinach dishes, spanikopita, and adapted it to use with our current farm share bounty.
I was really inspired by this article by Carol Ann Sayle, and I've been trying to use ALL the vegetable, whenever I can, since reading it.  And like a lot of people, I feel particularly challenged by kohlrabi. It's hard enough to use the bulb, but the greens, too?  (I'll use the bulb in a recipe for slaw very soon.) So with a plan to use as much of my share as possible, I headed into my kitchen.
This is NOT an easy recipe, but it's not hard, either. The only thing that really makes it "advanced" is the use of phyllo dough. There's no real mystery here, but you do need to plan ahead, and be patient with the dough. Phyllo dough is nearly always sold frozen, and how you defrost it seems to really impact whether it is easy or difficult to handle when you're using it.  I place the dough, still in the box, in the refrigerator the night before I'm going to use it - 12 - 24 hours in advance, so it has time to defrost. Then, an hour before I'm going to use it, I place it out on the counter, still in the box, so it can come to room temperature. Leave it in the plastic wrapping until you're ready to start buttering the dough and layering it in your pan. You don't want it to dry out, so keep it airtight until use.
I very literally grew up with a version of spanikopita from the cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure. My mom is a wonderful cook, and this was one of my very favorite things that she made. The recipe is really very simple. Spinach, onions, feta, eggs and some seasoning inside phyllo. I used this as my inspiration in creating the following recipe.
Instead of regular ol' yellow onions, I decided to use a mixture of the members of the onion family in my share last week.  Honestly, I think it was green onion and green shallot, but I'm not even sure. They looked just like this:





I encourage you to really play with this recipe. Use whatever greens you have. This is a great place to add all the various onion-y things you might have in your fridge. Spring onions, green onions, green shallots, etc.  Regular ol' pantry onions work great, too.

Greenikopita

 1 - 3 tbsp olive oil
 1 cup diced fresh green onions, shallots, regular onions, or a combination.
 6 cups shredded, diced greens (this is the good part - you can use beet greens, kohlrabi greens, kale, chard, dandelion greens, whatever. Enjoy!)
 1 lb sharp feta cheese, crumbled
 8 eggs, beaten
 2 tsp dried oregano
 Fresh ground pepper, to taste (I like lots)
 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
 1/2 stick butter
 1 package whole wheat phyllo
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the diced onions and saute for 2 - 3 minutes.  Add the chopped greens.  You'll find this is easiest if you add one or two handfuls at a time, adding more as the greens wilt, so there's room in the pan.  Once they've all been added, saute for 5 - 7 minutes or until tender.  Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat the 8 eggs. Add the crumbled feta, oregano, salt and pepper, and finally, add the warm greens and onions.  Mix all the ingredients so they're evenly dispersed and set aside.

In a small pan combine 4 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 stick of butter. Heat until butter is melted and remove from heat.  Using a large pasty brush, butter a 9 x 11 baking dish. Unroll the phyllo on your counter or other work space, with your baking dish close by.  Butter one sheet of phyllo dough, and spread out evenly in the pan, allowing the edges to hand over.  I like to alternate sides and corners where the edges hang, so that no one area gets all the over hang. For instance, I'll lay one sheet with the edge of the dough nestled in the front right corner, and the overhang will go over the rear and left sides of the pan, and I rotate these areas of overhang as I add more sheets of dough.  Repeat until you have 10 - 15 sheets of dough in the pan. Now, carefully spoon the greens, egg and cheese mixture into the pan lined with phyllo dough, and fold the edges of the dough over to cover the mixture. You'll have an area in the center of the pan not covered - so let's do that now. Butter a sheet of phyllo, fold in half, and place over the top of your dish, and repeat 3 or 4 times until you have a nice layer of phyllo dough evenly covering the top. Brush a final layer of butter over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 - 60 minutes, or until the mixture is firm and the top is golden brown.



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