Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

Spanakopita is to Greek food as samosas are to Indian food. I have always liked spanakopita but it wasn’t until our trip to Greece in 2013 that I totally fell in love with it. This recipe comes as close as you can get to the authentic taste without having to fly over to Greece, especially if you use fresh spinach! It also freezes well. I normally double the recipe and freeze the second pan. But I take it out of the oven before it fully browns on top. This way, it can be taken out of the freezer, thawed completely and baked again for 20 minutes or so. It comes out completely fresh baked!

Ingredients

1.5 lbs. spinach, chopped (you can substitute frozen, thawed well)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 leek, chopped (or 1 bunch green onions, diced)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
Salt and ground black pepper according to taste
3 Tbs melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pkg phyllo pastry sheets

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F
FILLING:
Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Set aside to let it dry.
2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a deep pot or saute pan. Saute the onions and leek until tender. Add the spinach, parsley, and dill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and any excess liquid is absorbed. Add nutmeg, chili flakes and coriander. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, feta and ricotta cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper according to taste.
4. Carefully remove the phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. If necessary, cut the sheets to fit the size of your pan with a pair of scissors. Place on your working surface in two stacks and cover one stack with wax paper and a damp cloth while working with the other. This is to prevent the sheets from drying.
5. Mix the olive oil and melted butter in a small bowl. Brush the bottom of the pan with a bit of the oil. Then one at a time, layer 10 to 12 sheets on the bottom of the pan brushing each sheet with the olive oil mixture. Place the spinach mixture evenly on top and press with a spatula to flatten. Layer another 10 to 12 sheets, one at a time, on top of the spinach mixture. Again brushing each sheet well.
6. Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo into serving sized squares with a serrated knife, making sure not to puncture filling layer. This is to enable easier cutting of pieces later. You can place the pan in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the top layers.
7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the pastry turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Credits: GlobalVegetarian.ca

Asparagus in Filo Pastry

If you want to impress your guests with a “fancy gourmet” but super easy appetizer that uses only a few ingredients and is ready in 30 minutes, then this is the one!

It is a delightful way to enjoy and showcase this lovely spring vegetable.

Ingredients

12 spears fresh asparagus
6 sheets phyllo pastry (thawed)
Olive oil
24 thin strips smoked gouda cheese
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Thaw phyllo pastry according to package instructions. Take 6 sheets, cut in half widthwise and place on parchment paper. Cover with lightly dampened cloth to prevent it from drying out.
2. Cut or snap off tough ends of asparagus. Bring a pan of water to boil. Flash boil asparagus for about 30 seconds. Remove from water immediately and rinse with very cold water. Pat dry.
3. Place a sheet of phyllo on cutting board. Brush with olive oil. Place asparagus and strips of cheese on edge of sheet, making sure the asparagus tip does not get covered by the pastry when rolled up. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
4. Fold bottom edge of pastry lengthwise like a hem. Roll up the pastry tightly over the asparagus and cheese with both hands until you have a long flute with the asparagus tip sticking out. Brush the roll with olive oil. Place on parchment lined baking sheet with the seam side down. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. (Alternatively, you can sprinkle the parmesan on the sheet prior to rolling it)
5. Repeat the process until all of the asparagus is used up. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Serve with your choice of aioli or mayo.

Credits: GlobalVegetarian.ca

Gnocchi Florentine

If you are a gnocchi lover but don’t enjoy the weighed down feeling afterwards, then this is for you. This gluten free gnocchi is much lighter than the traditional version and also very easy to make. The sauce is also incredibly fresh and light. It is something of a cross between primavera and florentine with zucchini, grape tomatoes and kale. There is no need to feel any guilt after enjoying a generous serving of this delicious pasta, and for those of us with gluten intolerance, it’s pure heaven!

To make Gluten Free Gnocchi see the recipe here.

Ingredients

1 Tbs olive oil
2 young zucchini, sliced or quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
3-4 kale leaves cut into 2-3 inch strips
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
2 Tbs butter
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2-4 Tbs Parmesan cheese
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine (or water)

Directions

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes., stirring occasionally.

2. Add tomatoes. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add kale and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Place cooked gnocchi into the skilled and toss. Add some liquid, about 1/2 cup (water from gnocchi) or white wine, to create a sauce.

4. Remove from heat, add basil, butter, lemon juice and stir.

5. Lastly, gently stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

Credits: GlobalVegetarian.ca

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi is a very popular vegan Punjabi dish. It’s almost always included on every Indian restaurant menu. I have added red, orange and green bell peppers as well as cashews to the traditional recipe to make it more colourful and nutritious. It goes very well with rice, quinoa, plain yogurt and makes for a completely balanced meal suited to a gluten free vegan diet.

Ingredients

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 to 2 large bell peppers in different colours, cut into 1.5 inch pieces.
2 medium potatoes, cubed into approx 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
4 – 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 piece of ginger, approx 1 Tbs minced
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 piece of fresh turmeric, approx 1 Tbs minced; or 1 tsp ground
3 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne or hot ground chilli powder (optional)
1 Tbs whole coriander seeds, crushed; or 2 tsp ground coriander
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup cashews

Directions

1. Toast the cumin seeds in a large saucepan on medium high heat for about 1 minute to bring out their nutty flavour. Add olive oil, cook for another minute. Add chopped garlic and ginger, cooking it for 1 to 2 minutes before adding the onion. Cover and cook the onion mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice in between until it turn slightly golden brown. If using fresh turmeric, add it now. Ground turmeric can be added with the rest of the spices later. Add chopped tomatoes to the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes until tomatoes soften and start blending in. Now add potatoes and mix well; cover the pot and allow potatoes to cook for 3 to 4 minutes so they will soften slightly before adding the vegetables. You can add a bit of water if the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.

2. Add cauliflower, peppers and all the spices (crushed or ground coriander, cayenne, salt, ground turmeric). Mix everything really well. Cover and allow the vegetables to cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between, until the cauliflower is softened but doesn’t break when stirring.

3. Once the vegetables are almost cooked, add cashews and cilantro. Gently stir, making sure the cauliflower doesn’t break. Remove from heat. Serve hot.

4. You can store leftovers in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Credits: GlobalVegetarian.ca

Vegan Cauliflower Corn Chowder

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 Tbs olive oil
3-4 cloves minced garlic
Small piece of minced ginger
3 cups unsweetened organic coconut milk beverage (or soy milk)
4 cups water or vegetable broth
2 cups corn kernels
About 3 cups cubed Yukon gold potatoes
About 2 cups cauliflower florets
1 Tb finely chopped jalapeño or chili pepper (optional)
Dried or fresh herbs of your choice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions

1. Cook onion, garlic and ginger with the olive oil in a large pot for a few minutes until translucent. Add corn, potato, coconut milk and water or broth. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat.

2. Put half of the soup into a blender and mix briefly, pour back into the pot. Add cauliflower, chopped pepper, herbs, salt, paprika and black pepper. Continue to cook for another 20-25 minutes until the chowder reaches the desired consistency. Enjoy!!

Credits: GlobalVegetarian.ca