Spanikopita Soothes the Soul (and the Stomach . . .)
After a grueling two weeks enduring a low-level stomach virus, I'm finally thinking about food again in a positive way. It was a strange illness--eating actually made me feel better, but of course, I didn't want to. I solved the problem by making a big pan of spanikopita (recipe to follow) and more or less living off of that (chicken salad helped too). My children were allowed to graze free-range: hot dogs, cereal for dinner, buttered pasta, I gave them whatever was the least amount of work. My husband was in Spain for the last week, so I could only slough off my domestic duties while everyone was at school. No fun. My spanikopita recipe is a close version of Mollie Katzen's from the New Moosewood Cookbook:
2 Tb. olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 1 tsp. coarse salt 1 Tb. chopped fresh basil 1 Tb.chopped fresh oregano 2 Tb. chopped fresh dill 3 packages thawed, frozen chopped spinach, drained and squeezed* 4 cloves garlic, minced 3 Tb. flour 1 lb. feta cheese, crumbled 1 cup cottage cheese (I prefer large curd, if available) 1/4-1/2 tsp. black pepper 2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, melted 1 lb. filo, thawed according to package directions *Or you can torture yourself and do it the hard way: wash , de-stem and coarsely chop two 10 oz. packages of savoy spinach. Add to onions and garlic and stir until wilted. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush 9x13-inch baking pan with butter. Heat oil in large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add spinach and stir until heated thoroughly. Add flour, stir, and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh herbs and salt. Mix in feta and cottage cheese, adding black pepper to taste. Add more salt if needed. Place a sheet of filo in prepared pan, letting the edges climb the side of the pan. Brush with butter and add another sheet, remembering to give the underside of the sheet that overhangs the pan a quick swipe with the butter each time. Repeat until you have a stack of 8 sheets. Add half of the filling in evenly spaced dollops and then spread so that it fills to the edges of the pan. Cover with 6-8 more sheets (this will be your middle filo layer) and add remaining filling on top. Finish with another 6-8 buttered sheets. Brush remaining butter on top and tuck in the edges. Bake 50 minutes or until golden. Let cool 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serves 6 generously, 8 more conservatively. If you happen to make it, let me know what you think.