SPINACH & FETA ONE POT PIE

I love this so much that I make it as least once every two weeks. It’s a one-pot version of a Spanokopita, but so much more delicious and healthy because I use less pasty. If you have a small cast iron pan like the one pictured, I highly recommend using it as it bakes this little pie to perfection. It’s a great Holiday stand-by dish for vegetarians. Once you’ve given it a try, I promise it’ll go up there in your top easy-to-throw-together recipes.

Serves 4

1 box whole wheat filo pastry

1/2 cup olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach leaves*

3 eggs*

5 ounces feta cheese

2 or 3 marinated red bell peppers (optional)

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 tsp sea salt & 1/2tsp black pepper

* I highly recommend buying organic eggs and spinach.

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

 

Grease the bottom of your cast iron skillet (if you don’t have one, use a round pie dish instead.)

Open out the rolled up pastry and lay half a sheet in the bottom of the pan. Gently brush with olive oil and lay over another sheet. Continue until you have 6 sheets layered on top of one another. Don’t worry if the pastry sheets come apart (they always do,) just patch up where necessary.

Steam the spinach for 2 or 3 minutes and then drain.

Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl and crumble the feta into it. Add the bell peppers and/or olives and seasoning.

Squeeze any remaining water out of the spinach with your hands, then add to the bowl and combine well.

Pour the egg mixture into your skillet. Top with another sheet of filo pastry, brush the pastry with olive oil and continue until you have 6-8 sheets. Brush the top sheet with olive oil and place in the oven for 35 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned on top.

ROASTED TUSCAN PEPPERS

We all have our “safe” favorites dishes – the recipes we keep up our sleeve that we can knee-jerk back to when in doubt – knowing that it will always turn out perfectly. This dish has been up my sleeve for many years now and it never fails to delight dinner guests. I only wish I could make it year round, but since I refuse to use non-organic bell peppers (the are one of the veggies on the “Dirty Dozen” list,) organic peppers are only available & affordable right now in August.

I wasn’t having a dinner party – I’m actually out of the dinner party groove right now – dunno why, but I am. Perhaps it’s because it’s the last 2 weeks of Summer vacation and everyone’s all over the place. Anyway, I made these for dinner for my husband and I. I served them with a spinach, goat cheese & hazelnut salad (a favorite combo,) and a warm ciabatta loaf (which is mandatory with this recipe to soak up all the good juices).

I’m not always fussy about ingredients, but when it comes to olive oil and tomatoes I am. For this recipe, I recommend using the best olive oil you can lay your mitts on. The tomatoes aren’t so important, as you’re going to be roasting them and you can roast a below average tomato and make it pretty delicious.

The recipe includes anchovies only for those who love them. I’m a great fan because I’m a salty girl through and through, but my husband begged me not to put them near his! So custom make them for the family.

Roasted Tuscan Peppers

Serves 2

2 large organic bell peppers

8-10 cherry tomatoes

8tbsp (approx) good olive oil

8 Kalamata olives

Sea Salt and Pepper

1 bunch of fresh basil leaves

1 small tin of anchovies (You’ll only be using half the tin, so perhaps make a Ceasar dressing with the rest.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 F

Carefully half the peppers lengthwise. Do not take the stalk off, but carefully slice through it. It looks pretty to keep it on. Carefully de-seed the peppers and place them in a deep baking dish.

Pop two cherry tomatoes, 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 2 olives, 2 basil leaves inside each pepper half. Season with salt and pepper and add the anchovies if using.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes – the edges of the peppers should be beginning to turn black and the actual body of the pepper should be slightly withered.

Allow to cool and serve at room temperature. You can cover them and chill overnight but make sure you leave them out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving as the flavors come out at room temperature. Garnish with a couple of leaves of fresh basil.

PANZANELLA

ahhhhh – I’ve arrived at my parent’s home in the UK (a little cottage in a tiny village in Surrey,) and am just getting over jet lag. Despite the fact that when it’s lunchtime here, it’s four in the morning back home, I’ve managed to get my taste buds onto British time and mom and I are already rummaging around in her kitchen, dreaming up the week’s menu.

Since she has an abundance of tomatoes and basil in her little garden and a large stale piece of ciabatta in her bread bin, I suggested a simple Panzanella for lunch today. I love Panzanella, which basically means “bread salad,” because it’s made from simple rustic ingredients that anyone can find. It goes without saying that the quality of the tomatoes make or break this dish, so go out of your way to get some good ones from the farmer’s market. I wouldn’t use heirloom tomatoes because they’re wasted in this salad. Whenever I find a perfect stripey heirloom, I just like to eat it naked with good olive oil and sea salt.

This salad calls for salty tastes to counter the sweet of the tomatoes and fresh basil, so I use anchovies, which you either love or hate – if you fall into the latter camp, use capers instead. Stale bread works best, so if you are eating ciabatta, forcaccia or olive bread this week, save a chunk and leave it out to get crusty.

The only fiddly part of this recipe is peeling the tomatoes, which you really have to do. That said, I’ve now got it down to a fine art, which I’ll share in a second.

Panzanella

4 or 5 medium tomatoes (preferably organic.)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp red wine vinegar
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
3 slices or a large end of stale ciabatta bread
1 tin of anchovies (drained and chopped)
12 black Kalamata olives
1 large bunch of basil, leaves torn off stems
1 bunch a flat leafed parsley ( we only had curly parsley, which isn’t as nice.)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 1 full minute and then drain under cold water. Slip off their skins. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the cores. Some recipes call for the tomatoes to be de-seeded, but I think this takes away all the juicy-ness, so I vote to just cut out the cores with a sharp little knife.

Roughly chop the tomatoes.

Add the oil, garlic, vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.

If the bread is soft enough, rip it into bite sized pieces – if it’s rock solid, use a sharp serrated knife to chop it up.

Place it in a pretty bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread and toss the salad around, making sure the bread is well coated. Add the parsley, basil, anchovies and olives – combine well. Finally add the red onion.

The salad is best left for a good hour before eating to allow the juices to soak into the bread. Eat the salad at room temperature. It’s even better the next day, however, if you chill it in the fridge overnight, be sure to take it out an hour prior to eating because the flavors only really come out if it’s room temperature.

I recommend eating this salad for a delicious lunch – it also travels well, so you could pop it in a reusable container to take to lunch at work. It also works well as an appetizer or a side to meat or fish.