Rachel Paterson & Courtney McPhee are two nursing students working with the Food Action Committee this year. They are simultaneously teaching and getting a crash course in local food cooking.
In early January, we set out for our second workshop with the kids at St. George’s Youth Net for another adventurous cooking class! The kids requested that we make food from different countries – so this time we decided to go Greek with spanakopita. We chose this recipe because it gave each kid the chance to fill and roll their own pastry.
We began by buttering and layering the filo dough while the other kids crumbled the feta cheese and prepared the spinach. At first the spinach wasn’t a hit, but once they saw it come together with the cheese and dough their opinions started to change!
Once all the ingredients were mixed together each person got to fill and roll several pastries into a triangular shape. Once complete, we popped them in the oven and all that was left was to taste test the final result!
Unfortunately due to minor problems with the oven, the spanakopita did not cook in time before the children had to leave. Once they were finished we put them in the fridge for the kids to heat up and eat the following day. We received word from the youth coordinator that the kids enjoyed them and they ended up being a great success!
So here it is, try it out! Spanakopita is just a fancy name for a simple recipe! (Recipe from: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/m/recipe/spanakopita.html)
1 1/2 lb. spinach, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. filo dough (20 sheets), thawed if frozen
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves, cover and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain well on paper towels, then squeeze out as much of the remaining liquid as possible. Place in a large bowl and add the feta cheese, kefalotiri cheese, eggs, mint, and nutmeg. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Lightly butter a baking sheet. Cut the stack of filo sheets lengthwise into 3 equal strips. Remove 1 strip and cover the remaining filo with a slightly dampened kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Place the strip on a work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Place another strip on top. Brush the second strip lightly with melted butter. Place a heaping teaspoonful of the filling about 1 inch in from the bottom of the strip. Fold the uncovered end over the filling on the diagonal to form a triangular shape. Bring the bottom of the triangle up against the straight edge. Continue folding in this manner until the tip of the strip is reached, forming a triangular pastry. Brush lightly with melted butter. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining filo and filling.
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Serve immediately, warm or at room temperature.