[Recipe 2] SPINACH, RICE and FETTA SCROLLS
Many moons ago, when I moved out of the family nest, my first housemates were Paul and Mary, both Italian. We rented a decrepid, slightly spooky half-house in St Kilda, with stables in the backyard, and a huge, ancient kitchen. Paul and Mary were both cooking whizzes, and it was through them that I grew to love Mediterranean cuisine. Mary’s dad often arrived on our door-step with massive home-grown eggplants (aubergines) and bottles of home-made tomato sauce.
It was around that time that I discovered A book of Mediterranean food by Elizabeth David, one of my most favourite cookbooks ever, first published in 1950. Look at that beautiful cover art!
Greek meals were always on high-rotation in that house. Paul made a mean Moussaka; and I still have some of Mary’s hand-written recipes, including one for her fabulous Spanakopita. My version is made with planned-overs as I love the addition of rice and zucchini. I like to twist mine into scrolls too as they look ace and are more child-friendly, especially if you refer to them as snails.
I make up a big pot of Spanakorizo (Greek spinach and rice) first – a lovely, light dinner as is; or served alongside fish. By reserving a couple of cups, you can conjure up a scrumptious batch of Spanakopita (spinach, rice and fetta) scrolls later. Yum.
[Recipe 1] Spanakorizo (Greek spinach and rice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onions, ﬁnely chopped
4 garlic cloves, ﬁnely chopped
1 zucchini (courgette), grated
10 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach (2 bunches)
3 cups long-grain white rice (I use Basmati)
2½ cups water
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup (100g) grated parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juiced and zested (approx. 2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest)
½ cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for scattering
Cracked black pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Crumbled fetta, to serve
Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook over a low heat, stirring often, until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice, water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid absorbed. Have a little peek after 10 minutes, and add a splash more water if necessary.
Lightly stir through the Parmesan, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill and pepper.
♦ Reserve about 2½ cups for the Spanakopita (spinach, rice and fetta) scrolls.
Divide remainder amongst four deep bowls. Scatter with crumbled fetta and extra dill; and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
10 cups of spinach seems an obscene amount, but remember it shrinks when warm!
For a change, add one cup chopped button mushrooms with the garlic and zucchini; or flake 100g (4 oz) of smoked trout fillet over the spanakorizo before serving. Yum! Spanakorizo is also lovely served with toasted pine nuts scattered on top.
FUSSY CHILD TIP: Add 1 small drained can of tuna to children’s servings of spanakorizo.
[Recipe 2] Spanakopita (spinach, rice and fetta) scrolls
♦ 2½ cups reserved spanakorizo
1 cup (100g) vintage tasty cheese, grated
250g fetta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter, melted, combined with 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 sheets ﬁlo pastry (3 sheets per scroll)
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Green salad or Green beans with toasted pine nuts, to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
♦ Place reserved spanakorizo into a large bowl.
Add tasty cheese, fetta, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Make 1 scroll at a time. Lay out one sheet of filo. Brush with butter/oil mixture. Add another 2 sheets of ﬁlo, brushing lightly with butter/oil mixture each time.
Spread a quarter of the spanakorizo and fetta mixture (about 1 cup) along one edge of the LONG side of your filo stack. Roll up into a sausage shape.
Place seam side down, and twist filo sausage to create a scroll (or ‘snail’ if you are preparing this with/for children). Brush top lightly with butter/oil mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Repeat procedure to make four scrolls.
Lift scrolls onto lined tray and bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with a green salad or Green beans with toasted pine nuts (cooled, and served as a salad).
Makes 4 scrolls.
FUSSY CHILD TIP: Scoop out half (about 2 cups) of the spanakorizo and fetta mixture and add a handful of leftover chopped roast chicken, before rolling into scroll shapes.