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Posts Tagged ‘Feta’

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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Pistachio & Feta Dip

We have made this dip many times as we, and our friends, keep on devouring the lot before a photo can be taken. Not really problematic as we love it so much. We finally got  a photo 🙂 but will keep on making the dip, which has become a firm favourite and works great as a starter to share with some barbecued flat breads.

Pistachio & Feta Dip – serves 8

  • 100g shelled pistachios
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 300g feta cheese
  • handful of dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 large tbsp Greek yogurt
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
  • sea salt if needed

Blitz the pistachio nuts and oil in a food processor for 30 seconds.

Add the feta, herbs, crushed garlic, chilli, yogurt and lemon zest and juice and blitz for about 1 minute, or until the mixture has a rustic texture.

Taste and add salt if needed but bare in mind that feta is already quite salty.

Serve with barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

 

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Easy Spanakopita

Inspired by Spanakopita, this is a simple recipe that’s easy to throw together when time is short and requires very little shopping.

Easy Spinach & Feta Pie (Cheat’s Spanakopita) – to serve 4

  • 1kg frozen whole-leaf spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin, fennel or caraway seeds (use what you have)
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g feta or soft goats cheese, broken into small chunks
  • 35g pine nuts, toasted or roughly chopped cashew nuts (we used a mix of both)
  • 375g all-butter, ready-rolled puff pastry

Heat the oven to 200°C /Gas Mark 6.

Put the frozen spinach into a saucepan with a splash of water. Cover and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until totally defrosted. Drain in a sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spice seeds and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and sauté until soft and golden. Add the thyme.

When the spinach has cooled a bit, squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can with your hands, then roughly chop. Mix with the onion, a squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of seasoning. Keep a few tablespoons of the egg for glazing and stir the rest into the spinach and onion mixture.

Spoon half the spinach mixture into an ovenproof dish (around 25 x 20 cm). Scatter over the cheese and pine nuts or cashews, and top with the remaining spinach. Brush a little beaten egg around the rim of the dish.

Lay the pastry over the dish and trim. Press the edge down on the rim of the dish so that it sticks. Brush with the rest of the beaten egg and bake for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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We’ve eaten this as a side salad, and on it’s own with crusty bread –  a summery meal in its own right! As always the quality of the tomatoes will really make this dish sing.

You should assemble most of this dish a bit in advance to allow the flavours to develop, then add the herbs and feta cheese just before serving.

Wine Suggestion: Try to find a youthful Italian red that echo’s the sunshine of this dish. We drank a Dolcetto d’Alba from Pira Luigi that had a joy and vitality, but reds from the Marche, Abruzzo and other central Italian regions should be a delight too. If you’re pushing the boat out go for a Rosso di Montalcino.

Summer Chickpea Salad – to serve 4

  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 lemons
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 x 410g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • a handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • a handful of  basil, finely torn
  • 200g feta cheese

Mix the tomatoes (including any juice) with the onion and chillies in a large bowl. Dress with the juice of 1½ lemons and lots of good olive oil. Season to taste.

Heat the chickpeas in a pan, then add almost all of them to the bowl. Mush up the remaining chickpeas before adding them as well. Allow to marinate for a while at room temperature.

Add the herbs and check the seasoning just before serving – you can add a bit more lemon juice if necessary. Put the salad in a serving dish and crumble the feta cheese over the top.

(Original recipe from Jamie’s Dinners by Jamie Oliver, Penguin Books, 2004.)

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Simple to make which makes it a perfect dish after a long day at work, plus it is packed full of flavour and deliciousness. We used Beluga lentils, which are really just a variation on Puy lentils, that hold a lovely black colour, glisten well when served and retain a good firmness when cooked; ordinary Puy lentils will work just as well.

Lentils with squash and feta – to serve 2

  • 100g Beluga lentils
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • 200g butternut squash, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 50g feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 small bunch parsley, chopped

Cook the lentils in the stock for 15-20 minutes or until tender, then drain. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the squash and some seasoning then cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and chilli and cook for another 5 minutes or so or until the squash is golden and tender. Add the cumin and stir through. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Stir in the parsley then divide between two plates and scatter with the crumbled feta.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Wine suggestion: the earthiness of the ingredients pair well with medium bodied, earthy wines – a classic match would be a pinot noir for a red, or a sylvaner in a white.

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This was supposed to be Thursday night’s dinner but we were seduced by some Minervois and French food in La Cave instead. Thankfully it works just as well on a Friday night! The spicy sweet potatoes make this a main meal salad but you could also serve it as a side to some barbecued meat or even a starter.

Sweet potato salad – to serve 8 (we adjusted quantities to serve 2)

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 3 dried chillies, crumbled 0r some chilli flakes
  • 4 scallions
  • 400g vine tomatoes
  • a small bunch of basil leaves
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 100g watercress
  • 200g feta cheese
  • a handful of mixed seeds, toasted (we used pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds)

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Roughly chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks then toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, the crushed cumin and chillies until well coated. Put on a baking tray and roast for about 25 minutes or until they are soft inside and crispy outside. Let them cool a bit.

Roughly chop the scallions and tomatoes and add to a bowl with the basil leaves. Dress with a good splash of balsamic vinegar and twice as much good quality olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Squidge the sweet potato on to a big platter and top with the dressed onions and tomatoes. Pile the watercress on top and crumble over the feta. Drizzle some more olive oil over and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Delicious!

(Original recipe by Jamie Oliver for Sainsbury’s magazine, August 2009)

 Wine suggestion: try a white wine with good food ability and fresh fruit flavours. We chose a white Bordeaux, G de Guiraud, the dry white wine made by famous Sauternes producer Chateau Guiraud. The Semillon gives it a great food friendliness and structure to stand up to the many flavours in the salad, while the Sauvignon Blanc brings a fruitiness which balances the spicy chilli flavours.

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