The final day of Meat Free Week, so here’s the recipe for the meal I started the week with – that cheeky spinach and feta pie with the lustrous curls – as I promised, and for which I’m sure the two of you who follow this blog have been gagging all week.
Some kind of spanakopita
Serves 2 greedy omnivores, with soggy but delicious leftovers for Monday’s packed lunch
Olive oil, for slathering and cooking (you could use melted butter, but that’s a matter for you and your cardiologist)
2 large cloves of garlic, very kindly chopped
1 bunch of silverbeet, rinsed, drained well, then leaves roughly shredded, larger stalks discarded, smaller ones not-so-kindly chopped
About a half of a 200g slab of Dodoni feta or other, creamy, salty Greek deliciousness (you could use grated haloumi, or a mixture of the two, depending on whether you like food that squeaks)
2 – 3 eggs, according to that discussion you had with the cardiologist
A handful each of chopped dill, mint and flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons fennel or cumin seeds, toasted and crushed to smithereens – your choice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
6 sheets filo pastry
Heat the oven to about 200C and slather a light coating of olive oil over a 20cm square baking pan.
Cook the garlic for about 1 minute until it’s soft and delicately scenting the kitchen because you’ve forgotten to put the extractor fan on.
Add the chopped silverbeet stalks and cook for another minute, then add the leaves and cook for a couple more until it’s all started to wilt a bit. Cover with a lid and set aside for another couple of minutes to get a bit soggier, then take off the lid and leave to cool while you’re getting the rest of the filling and pastry sorted.
Pour a stiff drink – this next part is worth at least one glass of ouzo, but not retsina – never retsina.
In a large bowl, crumble in your feta, crack in your eggs and throw in your herbs, spice and zest, then stir it all until it looks, well, inedible, actually. But don’t despair; instead, season it well with salt and pepper. Once the silverbeet is no more than blood temperature (you could come over all 1950s hausfrau and use your elbow to test it, if you’re in a Mad Men frame of mind), add it to the feta mixture, making sure you’ve drained any cooking juice and chucked it away (or over the long-suffering aloe vera plant on the window sill) and mix it well. Even more unattractive? Fear not, all is not lost – just set it aside and avert your gaze.
Drape 1 filo sheet into the pan, slather with olive oil, then top with another one. Do the same with more olive oil, then top with a third filo sheet.
Tip the silverbeet mixture into the centre of the filo base and spread it out nicely, then scrunch up the edges of the filo to form a sovereign border.
Next is the fun part – again, with thanks to genius food personage, Claire Brookman, of Super Food Ideas, for this trick – lay the last three sheets of filo on top of each other, then roll the stack up like a big, fat Brixton spliff. Then, with a sharp knife (as if you’d have anything else!), cut the filo roll into thick rounds.
Once you’ve done that, tease each roll out like a Pantene commercial and arrange the cascading curls over the top of the filling, until it’s completely and prettily covered. Then gently brush more olive oil all over the top and sovereign border so the pastry gets all golden and crunchy in the oven.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is all G and C and the filling is nice and hot.
Serve it in large slabs, with a simple tomato salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a large pelican bib to catch the crumbs.
For final donations to the good people of Voiceless and their work for animal welfare, head to my link on the Meat Free Week site and give generously. From me and all the vegetables who’ve not suffered unduly in the making of my dinners, we salute you.