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Posts Tagged ‘Feta’

Spanakopita

We can’t get enough of this classic Greek dish and we especially like this herby version by Felicity Cloake. Serve with salad.

Wine Suggestion: we think this works best with crisp, herbal white wines. As we couldn’t find a Greek Assyrtiko we chose instead the Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Friulano and Chardonnay from north-eastern Italy.  White flowers, peaches, crisp yellow apple and citrus aromas and flavours are followed by a good texture, vitality and fresh acidity.

Spanakopita – serves 6

  • 1kg frozen whole leaf spinach, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion or leek, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 300g feta, crumbled
  • 25g dill, chopped
  • 20g mint, leaves removed and chopped
  • 3 sprigs of oregano, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • nutmeg
  • 250g filo pastry
  • oil, for brushing

Gently fry the onion or leek in the oil until softened, then remove from the heat and stir in the scallions. Tip into a large bowl with the feta and herbs.

Squeeze the spinach with your hands until all of the liquid has comes out, then stir into the cheese mix. Add the egg, lemon zest, a splash of oil and a good grating of nutmeg, then mix with your hands. Season lightly (not too much salt).

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6.

Brush a 30cm x 25cm baking tin with olive oil, then line with half the filo, brushing each sheet with oil as you go and trying not to press down. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the sides.

Spoon the filling into the pastry lining, level the top, then put the lid on: repeat the layering process with the rest of the filo pastry. Fold the overhang inwards to form a rim and drizzle with more oil and cut into portions.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden and leave to cool slightly before serving.

(Original recipe by Felicity Cloake in The Guardian, Wed 22 Aug 2018)

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Orzo & tomato salad

A characterful and bright salad that tastes great with barbecued lamb. Easily halved.

Orzo & Tomato Salad with Capers & Kalamata Olives – serves 6 to 8

  • 350g orzo pasta
  • 2 x 290g deli packs of sunblush tomatoes, drained & cut into strips – reserve the oil
  • 400g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 200g pitted Kalamata olives, roughly halved
  • 50g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped
  • 400g feta cheese, crumbled into small chunks
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 240g capers in brine, drained

Cook the orzo according to the pack. Rinse well in cold water and leave to drain in a sieve for 10 minutes.

Put the drained orzo into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of oil from the tomatoes and mix well.

Cook the green beans in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, then drain and put into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking. Drain well.

Add the green beans to the orzo along with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add some more of the tomato oil and season generously with salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

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Maroccan kale, chickpea and squash stew

So here we are in October which in our house means thoughts are turning towards Autumn veg, warm casseroles and roast dinners. Here’s a really delicious, but healthy, idea for your first butternut squash.

Wine Suggestion: A little tricky this match but we have two suggestions: a juicy and spicy, Californian Zinfandel – get a good one if you can, like Cline or Ridge; or the Altos de Torona Albariño, a richly fruited white with spices and textures to complement the spices in the dish.

Moroccan chickpea, squash & cavolo nero stew – serves 4

  • 4 tomatoes, halved
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted in a dry pan and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 200g cavolo nero, shredded
  • a handful fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the tomatoes on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, drizzle over 2 tbsp olive oil, season well and roast in the oven about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 2 tbsp oil into a large saucepan and add the squash, thyme, garlic and onion. Season well and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, bay leaf, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and harissa. Season and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30-35 minutes or  until the liquid has reduced.

Mix the feta with the last tbsp of olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl.

Add the ground coriander and cavolo nero to the stew and cook for a couple of minutes. Put the stew into bowls and top with feta, some coriander leaves and fennel seeds, and some seasoning. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Romilly Newman for BBC Good Food)

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Greek salad

Perfect with many Greek dishes, but none mores than barbecued lamb cutlets or kebabs/souvlaki. You could also serve it as as starter with some crusty bread. A very popular salad in our house when the days get warmer. In fact, we blogged it here a few years ago and it’s still a firm favourite.

Greek Salad – serves 4

  • 450g ripe tomatoes
  • ½ a cucumber
  • 1 red onion (we only use half an onion)
  • 200g Greek feta cheese
  • 4½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ouzo/Pernod
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 20 small black olives
  • large pinch of dried oregano – Greek if you can find it

Cut the tomatoes into chunky pieces and cut the cucumber in half lengthways and then across into thick slices. Slice the red onion as thinly as possible (a mandolin is good for this if you have one). Crumble the feta into chunky pieces.

To make the dressing whisk the olive oil, ½ tsp salt, the red wine vinegar, ouzo/Pernod and some black pepper in a large salad bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and onions and toss gently. Add the feta, dill and olives and mix briefly.

Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with the dried oregano and some coarsely ground black pepper.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Feta salad with spinach, crispbread, sumac & pinenuts

Another success from Sam & Sam Clark of Moro. Great textures and interesting flavours. Works as a starter or a side with grilled meat.

Feta salad with spinach, crispbread, sumac & pinenuts – serves 4

  • 500g young spinach, washed and dried (in a salad spinner ideally)
  • 200g good-quality feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 dessertspoon fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
  • 75g pinenuts, very lightly toasted
  • 25g butter
  • 2 pitta breads
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt
  • 1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Melt the butter. Split the pitta in half lengthways and brush the melted butter on both sides. Put the pittas on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool.

Whisk the garlic, red wine vinegar, sumac, olive oil together to make a dressing. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Put the spinach, roughly broken crispbread, half the feta cheese, the oregano/marjoram and pinenuts into a large bowl. Pour over most of the dressing and toss together. Serve with the rest of the feta and dressing on top.

(Original recipe from Moro: the cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

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Spanakopita

The classic spinach & feta combination never gets tired. These savoury Greek pastries are delicious and very easy to make. We worked out a production line (thanks Tricia & Orla) and had them assembled in no time! Great as a starter or snack with drinks. Perfect entertaining food.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find an Assyrtiko,  a crisp and delicious Greek white, then you’ve got a great match. Unfortunately it can be hard to find good Greek wines so stick to the Mediterranean and search for a Fiano or Greco di Tufo from Italy. Failing this we’ve had crisp Touraine Sauvignon Blancs with this as well to great effect.

Spanakopita (Spinch, mint & feta pastries) – makes 18-20

  • 500g spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 100g Greek feta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp finely grated Greek kefalotiri cheese or Parmesan
  • a pinch of finely grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 250-275g pack of filo pastry (about 6 sheets)
  • 100g butter, melted

Wash and dry the spinach (remove the stalks if they look tough). Finely shred the leaves.

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook gently until soft but not browned. Gradually add the spinach, a handful at a time, until it has all wilted. Tip into a colander and drain, pressing out the liquid with a wooden spoon, then return to the pan with the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Leave to cool.

Crumble the feta into a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork – you can leave it a bit chunky. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan, the spinach mixture, nutmeg, mint and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Unroll the sheets of filo and cut the stack lengthways into strips about 7.5cm wide. Brush the top layer with melted butter. Put a heaped teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of one strip, at the end closest to you, and fold one bottom corner of the pastry diagonally over the filling, so that the corner touches the opposite side to make a triangle. Then fold over the filled triangular corner, and keep folding it along the whole strip in a triangular parcel. Repeat to make all the spanakopita.

Brush the undersides of each parcel with more butter and place on a lightly buttered baking tray. Brush the tops with butter and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

These are best served straight from the oven while the pastry is still crispy but they are also good at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Penne alla norma

We love Rick Stein’s recipes as everything seems to come from true inspiration and has been tested in a real world kitchen so it all works. This recipe is no exception and delivers in flavour and balance perfectly.

Pasta alla Norma is traditionally made with spaghetti but worked just as well penne pasta as a substitute.

Wine Suggestions: Aubergine tends to work with Southern Italian reds really well, but we had an unexpected burst of sunshine so opened a Provençal rosé, Chateau Vignelaure La Source, which is an old favourite. It worked a treat and  will definitely try it again with other aubergine dishes.

Pasta alla Norma – Pasta with Aubergines, Tomatoes, Chilli & Cheese – serves 4

  • 500g aubergines (2 large ones)
  • 500g well-flavoured tomatoes or top quality tinned plum tomatoes, drained (Italian brands are best)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ tsp crushed dried chillies
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 100g finely grated ricotta salata or crumbled feta cheese

Trim the aubergines and cut into two across the middle, then cut each piece lengthways into chip-sized sticks. Toss with 1 tsp of salt and set in a colander over a bowl to drain for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using fresh tomatoes, squeeze them over the sink to get rid of most of the juice and seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil (about 4.5 litres) and season generously with salt (about 8 teaspoons).

Pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper to remove the salt and any liquid. Heat 4 tbsp of the frying pan, add half the aubergines and fry until lightly golden. Lift onto a plate lined with kitchen paper  and leave to drain while you fry the next batch. After removing the second batch of aubergine, leave the oil in the frying pan to cool.

Put the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the packet or until al dente. 

Before the pasta is ready, add the remaining oil and the garlic to the cooled frying pan and return to the heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle gently, add the crushed chillies and the tomatoes and cook over a high heat for a few minutes or until they have broken down into a sauce. Season well and stir in the aubergines.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the torn basil and half the cheese, then toss well. Divide between warm bowls and serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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