Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spanikopa Casserole

This year's antidote to turkey is spanikopa. 

This wonderful puff of a spinach-cheese casserole is easy to make since the sheets of filo are quite forgiving to even the sloppiest layering.  It always looks pretty and can be prepared and baked ahead then reheated or enjoyed at room temperature. A great alternative to quiche at a brunch, it also serves as a side dish for grilled meats and fish.  It is vegetarian-approved and with a side salad plenty filling. Single servings freeze well and reheat quickly for a quick save for dinner or lunch. 

Spanikopa Casserole
Serves 6-8
6 oz feta cheese (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
10-oz package frozen spinach (defrosted, drained)
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon olive oil or spray oil
1/2 package frozen filo sheets (16 sheets), defrosted
4 oz melted butter

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together feta, ricotta, defrosted and well drained spinach, dill, pepper and salt.  If your feta is very salty, you may want to use only a little bit of salt. Taste the mixture before adding the raw egg.  
  3. Crack egg into mixture and stir to combine well.  
  4. To assemble casserole. wipe a 9 X 13 baking pan with a bit of olive oil or spray oil.  Open defrosted filo package and roll out sheets.  Immediately place sheets on a plastic wrap- or wax paper-lined baking sheet, cover with more plastic or wax paper and a damp dish towel.  This will keep the filo sheets flexible while you work with them.  
  5. Have ready a pastry brush and the melted butter in a small bowl.  Place a single filo sheet on a large cutting board or other clean surface in front of you and lightly brush it with butter.  Transfer the sheet to the prepared baking pan. The sheet will come up the sides a bit. This is fine since it will help to form the outer crust. Continue to butter and transfer filo sheets until you have eight layers. If the sheet dries and bit and breaks, simply butter it and layer it in place.  Any “wounds” will heal during baking. 
  6. Spoon out the spinach-cheese mixture over the buttered filo sheets and smooth out the top to form an even layer.  
  7. Butter and layer eight more filo sheets, folding over or cutting away any excess than hangs over pan.  With a sharp knife, lightly score through a 2-3 top layers of filo at 3-4 inch intervals to create a wide diagonal pattern.  
  8. Bake spanikopa for 30-35 minutes, uncovered,  until pastry is nicely browned and spinach filling is slightly puffed indicating that egg is cooked.  Cool about 10 minutes before slicing.