Jumbo-Sized Spanakopitas

Remember how my birthday was last Wednesday?  Well, Michael and I celebrated it last weekend by going out to dinner.

When both locations of the Italian place I wanted to go to were closed last Sunday, we ended up going to Ela!, a Greek restaurant, as a back-up.

I was reminded of the time when I was in university and my roommate, Becka, wanted to go there for her birthday and my two other roommates and I put up a big stink about it because we didn’t want to go there because we thought Greek food was “gross.”

Fast forward about five years and there I was, picking Greek food for my birthday.

Sorry, Becka.  Ela! is delicious and I’m sorry I complained about going there for you birthday like five years ago.

You can make Greek food at home too!  Like these gigantic spanakopitas!

They’re delicious and you can freeze them so all you have to do is pop them in the oven let it take care of the rest.

Jumbo-Sized Spanakopitas 

(slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

500 g bag frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

4 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tbsp parmesan, grated

3 tbsp + more unseasoned bread crumbs (I used panko)

1 tsp grated nutmeg

Pepper

2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (I cheated and used the freeze dried stuff that’s like fresh)

275 g feta, diced small (about 2 cups)

4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

1 pkg phyllo dough, defrosted (the one I used had 26 sheets of phyllo)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Heat olive oil at medium-low heat in a medium pan.  Add onion and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the green onions and cook for two more minutes.  Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a second pan on medium heat until browned, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t burn.

Defrost spinach in microwave if you didn’t plan ahead, and place in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out most of the water.  Put the spinach in a large bowl.

Melt your butter.  Get your phyllo ready to work with.  Take out of package and lay a damp towel on top of the stack to keep it from drying out.

Place one sheet of dough on a flat work surface with the long end facing you.  Brush lightly with butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs, using enough so the layers of phyllo won’t stick together.  The original recipe suggested a teaspoon.  I just sprinkled away and probably ended up using a little more.  Repeat until you’ve got four layers total of phyllo.  Cut the stack in half lengthwise.

Put a heaping 1/3 cup of the spinach mixture on the shorter end of the dough and roll up diagonally like a flag.  Keep folding until you reach the end of the sheet and filling is completely enclosed.

Repeat until all the filling is used.  I got seven spanakopitas out of mine.

At some point during the folding stage, depending on how long it takes you, preheat your oven to 375º.  Place finished spanakopitas on a baking sheet, seams down, brush with butter, and bake 30-35 minutes, until phyllo is browned and crisp.

When I made these, I assembled them the day before I cooked them and put them in the fridge until I was ready to bake them.

I usually wrap some individually in plastic wrap and freeze.  When I want to make one, I take it out of the freezer and bake for about 45 minutes. until brown.  Awesome freezer supper!

Opa! Greek Fest

Every year, Greek Fest happens in Halifax.  For the last four or five of those years, I’ve been saying I should go to Greek Fest, but it’s never actually happened.

This year, that changed.

I finally made it to Greek Fest!

I didn’t know if it was going to happen.  Michael isn’t really the festival going kind of guy (seeing as how there would likely be more than two people there), plus he never wants to go to the Greek restaurant Ela! for supper, and he claims he hates feta.

I was delightfully surprised when Michael agreed to go this year!

Neither of us were sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted spanakopita and baklava!

Luckily, the rain cleared up on Sunday and we went when they first opened so we could get a parking spot.

I had the Vegetarian Plate and Michael ordered the Greek Plate.  They both had delicious lemon roasted potatoes, Greek salad, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita, and tiropita (a feta cheese pie), and mine had a stuffed pepper and Michael’s had moussaka.

And guess who said they liked the tiropita, the FETA cheese pie?  Michael!  This from the guy who said he didn’t like feta.  I knew no one could resist feta’s salty goodness.  Feta is delicious!

And then there were the desserts!  They were all lined up along a table and they all looked SO GOOD!

I knew going in it was baklava for me.  The only other time I can remember eating baklava was when I made some for my grade nine ancient history class when we were learning about the Greeks.  I can’t remember what my grade nine version tasted like, but I can assure you, it was nowhere near as good as the Greek Fest baklava!

I also had this sort of shortbread-like cookie that was COVERED in icing sugar… YUM! 

Michael had one of those cookies, a diple (deep-fried Greek pastry), and a galaktoboureko (custard in phyllo).  I had a taste and they were pretty good too.

Funny story:  I couldn’t remember what the galaktoboureko was called so I kept calling it galactorrhea which means “spontaneous flow of breast milk.”  Ya, so not the same thing.

We also entered in a draw for a trip to Greece, but since no one has called me yet, I guess that means we didn’t win.  Darn.  Greece is only at the top of my wanderlust list.  Until I make it there, I’ll have to settle for eating Greek food.

Now that we’ve had a pleasant “fest” experience and I’ve realized Michael doesn’t hate them as much as he claims he does, I think we’re going to take in a few more fests this summer.  Stay tuned!