Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spanakopita & Chickpea Salad

Spanakopita is a Greek dish that is often served as an appetizer. In fact, the first time I tried spanakopita was Trader Joe's appetizer version. I liked it then and (not surprisingly) it's even better homemade! I ended up making this as our main dish for dinner but I will keep it in mind as either an appetizer or a main dish. This recipe has TONS of spinach which is great for you but don't be afraid if you don't like spinach since the flavor isn't overwhelming. (You could also substitute anything that cooks like spinach...beet greens, swiss chard, kale, etc. If you use frozen spinach, make sure to squeeze out all the water and then give it a rough chop.) Also, I used cottage cheese which is really high in protein.

I also ended up cooking the ingredients in the morning and refrigerating them until dinner time. Then it only took a few minutes to assemble everything and throw it into the oven to bake.

I served this with a simple chickpea salad recipe to up the protein and fiber...fresh and a great side! I also made this in the morning so there was plenty of time for the flavors to blend together. We added sliced green olives which gave it even more of a Mediterranean taste.

Taken from: All Recipes
When working with phyllo dough, make sure it is fully thawed. Additionally, cover unused phyllo sheets with plastic wrap and then a wet cloth to make sure they do not dry out.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds rinsed and chopped spinach (if you use regular spinach, make sure to cut off the stems as they are bitter; I used 2 9-oz bags of baby spinach instead)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1/4 cup olive oil OR cooking spray
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil or spray with cooking spray a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
-Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to saute until spinach is limp, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

-In another medium bowl, mix together eggs, cottage cheese, and feta. Once spinach mixture is cooled, stir into the egg mixture.
-Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, spray with cooking spray, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. (If any of the phyllo dough tears or breaks off, just use those pieces!)
-Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, spraying each with cooking spray. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.

Chickpea Salad
Taken from: A Hint of Honey
  • 3 cups of cooked dried garbanzo beans (or a 1 14 oz. drained and rinsed garbanzo bean can)
  • 2 Tbsp. red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
-Combine chickpeas, red onion, garlic, tomato, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for several hours before serving to blend flavors. Serve with sliced green olives, if desired (you could also try black olives or feta cheese).


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