US VegWeek 2013 Recipe: Chardopita

Here’s another one of our favorite recipes (and why I’m posting them is here).  Chardopita (spanikopita made with swiss chard) is usually an appetizer or side dish but we like to eat big pieces of it along with some kind of creamy vegetable soup.  It would be good with roasted red pepper tomato soup or pumpkin soup, for example.

As taught to me by my mother-in-law, Tina and then adapted by me over the years of making it! 🙂 Blame any inauthentic variations of the real Greek food on me!
Makes eight generous (main dish) portions

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

Sauté in olive oil until very soft but not brown.  In the last couple of minutes, add the garlic and saute until fragrant.

1 pound cooked chard* or spinach or a combo (excess water squeezed out)
Feta cheese, to taste, crumbled
(maybe ¼-1/2 pound?)**
3-4 eggs
(depending on their size)
Salt and fresh ground pepper,
to taste
Herbs to taste
(oregano, parsley, dill, or mint, or a combination are all good choices) – I usually use lots of dried dill with some dried oregano

Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl, along with the cooked onions and garlic, until well mixed.

Plenty of extra virgin olive oil*** and melted butter, in roughly equal amounts
(the thin kind) – split into two even parts, about 8-10 sheets for each part (or however many comes in your box)

Brush the bottom of a 9×13 pan with the EVOO/butter mixture (“oil”), using a pastry brush.  Put down the first piece of phyllo, brush completely with oil, and continue until you’ve put in half of the phyllo.  Spoon in the chard mixture and spread evenly.  Repeat the phyllo/oil/phyllo process until you’ve used the remaining sheets of phyllo.  Make sure to brush the final piece with oil too.  Score the top of the phyllo into pieces – we usually do 8 big pieces in a 9×13 when we’re going to eat it as an entrée.  Scoring is essential to the overall success of the dish also – if you don’t score it, you’ll just get big pieces of phyllo floating around on top (this is the voice of experience speaking).  When scoring, cut through several layers of the phyllo but not all the way to the filling.

(At this point, you can cover and put in the freezer if you want to eat it later.)

Bake in a 350 oven for about an hour, until deeply golden brown.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  If baking a frozen spanikopita, put the cold pan into the cold oven and then turn on the oven.  It will probably take an additional 30 minutes or so to bake.

IMG_4704 (800x600)What happens when you don’t score your phyllo! 🙂


*This is how I process chard:  Cut out the thick stalks and discard. (You can eat them if you want but we don’t love them.)  Roughly chop the greens into bite size pieces.  Wash thoroughly – this usually takes 3-4 changes of water to get them really grit-free.  Dump large handfuls into a large pot of boiling water.  Cook until they’re good and wilted (maybe a couple minutes).  Take out and plunge into cold water.  Then put into a salad spinner and spin out excess water.  Put onto an absorbent towel to absorb even more water.  Use immediately or freeze in useable portions. (We freeze in 8-ounce packages.)

**We only use imported Greek feta.  A bit snobbish perhaps but if you taste the good stuff compared to the grocery store kind (which we call “not-feta”), there’s no comparison.  The flavor and quality of your spanikopita will definitely be affected by the quality of the feta that you use.  You can find some good feta imported from Bulgaria and/or France although we obviously prefer the Greek stuff!  We buy our feta at Prima Foods.

***The quality of your olive oil will affect your final product.  We only use Greek olive oil and prefer to buy more expensive oil because the taste and quality is far superior.

****We also buy our phyllo at Prima Foods.  There, the thin kind is #7 (it’s the box with the baklava recipe on the back.)  The boxes they sell are big enough that I cut the phyllo in half at the fold and use just half a box for one 9×13 batch of spanikopita.

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