The thing with growing your own fruit and vegetables is that when they need to be harvested, they need to be harvested. And after all the work of nurturing, pruning, fertilising and controlling weeds, you don’t want your fresh produce to be past its best.
Last weekend, faced with several silverbeet (swiss chard) plants on the verge of bolting to seed, I decided that a batch of spanikopita was in order.
A Greek classic, spanikopita combines fresh seasonal greens with salty fetta cheese, creamy ricotta and buttery layers of flaky filo pastry.
My recipe is based on the one in my trusty 1996 edition of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. I substituted silverbeet, stems and all, for the English spinach in Stephanie’s recipe and I used ground nutmeg instead of freshly grated nutmeg. The silverbeet, mint, parsley and green onions all came from my garden.
The recipe below serves 6 as a main course or 8 as an entree.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 6 large silverbeet leaves including stems, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 125g fetta cheese, crumbled
- 125g ricotta cheese
- 60g grated pecorino
- 120g butter, melted
- 10 sheets filo pastry
- Preheat oven to moderate 180 degrees C/ 160 degrees fan-forced
- Grease a 28 cm x 18 cm x 8 cm metal baking dish or slice tin
- Fry onion gently until softened (about 5 minutes) then add spring onion, silverbeet , herbs and nutmeg and cook until silverbeet is soft. Turn into a large bowl to cool.
- When mixture is cool, add beaten eggs and cheeses to silverbeet mixture and mix well.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste..
- Cut pastry sheets in half and, brushing each sheet with melted butter, layer 10 pastry halves over base of dish and up the sides.
- Spoon in silverbeet mixture and spread evenly over base.
- Layer remaining 10 buttered pastry sheet halves on top of silverbeet mixture, tucking any overlap down sides.
- Score top of pie into portion sizes (6 for a main or 8 for an entree or side), but don't cut through the bottom.
- Bake for one hour until golden brown.
- Serve warm or cold.