I Love Spinach!

I am on this new kick of eating better and I thought, why not add spinach to at least one meal a day. Its easy, and you have options. The health benefits of super-food spinach are amazing. I could go on an on, but here are some key facts:

  • Its an excellent source of iron
  • Low calorie, nutrient rich
  • Its versatile – you can eat it raw or cook it any way you choose
  • Antioxidant rich
  • Heart healthy
  • Has GI health benefits
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

But enough with the “how spinach is good for me” talk.

Last night, my little brother and his wife came into town for the night to visit (hooray, because I never see them). Mom took over the main dish and I made my favorite side, Spanakorizo (SPA-nah-ko-REE-zo). Basically a fancy word for Greek spinach and rice. Most Greek cookbooks call for the use of dill…and not everyone is a fan of that (especially me), so this is my dill-free take on it.  I cheated and used canned tomatoes, but if you want to make your own with fresh ones like I sometimes do, go for it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 heaping handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes seasoned with garlic, onion and oregano
  • 1 can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, onion and oregano
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar to counter the acidity
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large kasarolla (pot), start your aromatics – onion, olive oil, oregano and garlic. Saute on medium heat until the onions are translucent (but don’t burn your garlic!). Next, wilt down your spinach. Make sure you use your koutala (wooden spoon) to coat each leaf with the onions and olive oil. Once it has wilted about 3/4 of the way, add all of your tomatoes, lemon juice, sugar, rice and water. Stir until everything is combined. After the mixture comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover your pot, stirring occasionally. Your ingredients will begin to thicken up, and once your rice has fully cooked, its done!

This serves a family of 5-6.

Kali Oreksi! (Good meal to all!)

 

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Say Cheese!!!

Since I dropped out of Greek School in the 2nd grade to pursue other things, such as ballet, tap, jazz, piano lessons, gymnastics, and every other thing an American girl growing up in the late 80s, early 90s would do, the language barrier between my “Fresh Off the Boat” grandparents and I resulted to not a whole lot of verbal communication, but on the bright side it resulted in actions of love and family lunch gatherings on Sundays around the kitchen table.

They say that a smell can transport us back to memories from the past, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Over Easter weekend, or as us Greeks refer to it – Pascha, I decided that I would make my sweet Yiayia in heaven proud and make her Patmian cheese pies. This is a Pascha tradition (I don’t know how many generations this goes back) – but I can remember as a child my parents driving my brother and I to Yiayia and Papou’s house (Grandma and Grandpa for all of you non-Greeks) and arriving to the sweet smell of surprise that Yiayia made this sweet and savory delicacy in little copper pans shaped like hearts.  It made us feel like they were made with love – and of course they were – she made them with her bare hands!

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Where my family is from “back in the ol’ motherland,” Patmos, Greece to be exact…you can find these little pies at just about any bakery on the island. Go to another island in the Aegean Sea, and they are no where to be found. It just goes to prove that these babies are a true delicacy of a 13.15 square mile island.

After my Papou passed away in 2000, it was pretty hard for Yiayia to make the pies, so the recipe went dormant for a few years. In 2007, she took the recipe with her to heaven – so I had to call her friends a few years later and let them know I was on a quest for the recipe. Someone had to carry the torch.

After a few phone calls to other Patmian ladies my Yiayia was besties with, I learned that “a plate of flour” and “two handfuls of sugar” were not going to cut it making a recipe…I mean…how big of plate are we talking here? How large of a mound of flour was supposed to be on this “said plate”?

Finally, her friend Margarita came to the rescue and relayed her variations of ingredients needed to make these cheesy wonders…in cups and tablespoons. (thank God)

I remember how excited my dad was after I made the first batch. He was glowing with pride.

ingredients

Crust: (Basic cookie recipe)

Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda

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Filling: (Use Greek cheeses if its available – but I substituted for the Italian cousins)

Ricotta cheese, parmesan, romano, feta, eggs, baking soda and flour.

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Do you really think I’m going to give you the measurements and how to cook them? Pshhhhyeeeah right. Its a secret family recipe!

Growing up as a borderline Generation X/Millennial/whatever you want to call it, I used part skim ricotta – rather than whole milk (ew) ricotta.  These days we have got to stay healthy,  keep the cholesterol down and Lipitor on hand just in case we OD on the cheese.

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Until next time, thanks for reading, and follow my food adventures on Instagram!

Username: msmagoo43