Southern Spinakopita - Today it's pushing 90 degrees again. Any sane person would have stayed inside (not me.) The car was filthy and I couldn't stand it anymore. So of course by the time I was ready to do it, it was 11:30 and so hot outside I could see the heat waves rolling on the pavement.
It's all finished now and I wonder if tomorrow I should just get up before sunrise and work on the yard? Ughh. It's the only thing I like about winter in the south. Zero yard work! Yeah!
The dog days are where the Greek influence comes in. There is no doubt that they live in a very unforgiving, sunny environment, where shade and simple food are integral to survival and health. Can you imagine a slice of meatloaf on a day this hot? I feel woozy even writing it. The produce today showed evidence of the best of summer. Lemons the size of my fist and the most beautiful collard greens. Ooh whee!
You cannot eat heavy food and feel good on days like this. Come winter we will once again make stews and potpie. I think that the Greek diet is one of the healthiest I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Raw olive oil, sea salt and goat cheese. What do these all do together you ask?
They make magic. Perhaps none of us will ever have the pleasure of reading The Red Book of Hergest, but knowledge of herbs and natural, raw foods is found in many ancient cultures if you look. The Greeks have been around a long time and their smart diet is most definitely part of that. The ingredients in this picture will be a simple salad to go with my Spinakopita.
I was inspired today to have some fun with puff pastry and make Spinakopita. Instead of spinach I decided to make my recipe for collard greens. I was feeling creative and honestly would make up any excuse necessary to be inside today. I enjoy Sunday afternoons in the kitchen. No one bothers me and I play music and sometimes drink wine. Today it's strictly water with lots of ice and fresh lemons. So perfect! My house smells fabulous and so far my food critic is giving me a double thumbs up. I am thinking you could also use kale if you wanted to in this recipe but the cooking time is more like ten minutes. That's the coolest part of cooking. You can swap things in a recipe, if they have the same general properties. It's important to look at the carbon footprint we make and use locally sourced foods if we can. It not only makes our food fresher, but helps our local economy as well.
1 bunch of fresh collard greens washed with the hard ends trimmed off, cut into thin ribbons
1 tsp of white sugar
8 dashes hot sauce (Cholula and or Tabasco have a nice taste.)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Vidalia or sweet onion
1/2 slice Kentucky legend brown sugar ham approx 4 oz finely chopped *Vegetarian alternative no meat- use 1 tsp liquid hickory smoke instead of ham
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp dried, red pepper flakes
Hold the ingredients below for later *
1 cube of fresh feta
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated finely
1 package puff pastry
2 tsp melted butter
Non-stick cooking spray, parchment paper for baking
Clean the collards well and ribbon very fine, like cabbage for slaw. You will want everything to be cut very fine, so that it will not damage the pastry. Thaw pastry on the counter in the box. (About 45 min)
Heat large Dutch oven on stovetop with olive oil. Add onions and sauté with ham * or liquid smoke) until both are browned. Add all of the other ingredients into the pan on the first list. Stir in 1/2 cup of water and cover and turn down to simmer. Cook approx 1 hour until greens are tender and you can cut them easily with a fork. Pre heat your oven to 350 and use convection setting, if that is an option. Crumble the feta into a large mixing bowl and add Parmesan, Strain and stir in the collards, mix with a spoon. Let cool.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. On your counter gently lay out 3 sheets of pastry cut with a sharp knife into 3 equal size triangles. Be gentle of you will tear the pastry. Cover the other sheets to keep them moist. Use approx one Tablespoon of mixture in center and fanning out to about an inch of the edge of the pastry.
Use a point and pull it over to another and attempt to make a neatly covered triangle. Gently pick up and put seam side down on parchment covered cookie sheet.
Fill the remaining two sheets and brush a small amount of melted butter on before baking approx 20-25 min or until the tops are golden brown. Puff pastry has always been a huge challenge for me. Just have fun and if a few don't turn out just right - they still taste good.
Serve with peach tea, white grape juice over ice or your favorite white or blush wine. A small mixed green salad or sliced tomatoes go very well with this dish.
I really hope you enjoy this recipe. I love it! I hope truly no Greek or Southerner would be offended by my boldness as to try this combination. Trust me you will not be disappointed. I heard a quote the other day that really struck me.
"Poor men eat for sustenance and wealthy men eat for pleasure." Rich or poor enjoy in good health and remember... try to use what is available regionally. Fresh is always better.
If you need a great story to go with your meal, please consider on of my seventeen titles on Amazon now. My latest Loftus Hall is about family, coming to grips with the past and of course it has a few strange and magical elements to keep you glued to the edge of your seat.
Thanks for reading and until next time, Find your Peace, Love, Hustle, then Read or Write.