Spanakopita Pie (with or without lamb)

Thanks to Costco, I had 2.5 pounds of spinach, and two 16-ounce blocks of feta in my fridge. And all I could think was SPANAKOPITA. But really, who has the time to layer phyllo dough? Instead, I came up with more of a casserole dish. The bottom is rice, with a nice brown crust thanks to the inclusion of plain yogurt, and the top is a thick layer of the filling in a spanakopita because really, that’s the best part. And in the one I made, there’s an intervening layer of ground lamb in half, for the meat eaters in my house.

Here’s what you need:

For the rice crust:

2 cups of dry rice (I did basmati)

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 glug olive oil

salt to taste

For the spinach layer:

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt & pepper

about 2 pounds of spinach

1 block of feta (mine was 16 ounces)

the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 bunches of the following fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, and dill, chopped well with the stems

2 eggs

For the lamb layer (if you want it):

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound ground lamb

salt & pepper

For the top of the pie: 1/2 cup parmesan cheese or mozzarella cheese (optional)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. For the rice crust: Cook the rice per the directions or in a rice cooker. Then, in a cast iron skillet, mix together the rice, yogurt, olive oil, and salt. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Spread the rice in a nice layer in the bottom of the skillet and pat down.

3. For the spinach layer:

a. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat, and add the onions and garlic. Cook until they start to become fragrant and slightly translucent, a few minutes.

b. In batches, add the spinach to the onion mixture. Toss around with tongs until the spinach wilts. Then transfer to a large bowl, leaving any excess liquid in the pan. Continue until all the spinach is cooked. Make sure all the spinach and onions go in the bowl, and toss the excess liquid.

c. Add the feta and herbs to the bowl. Stir well together. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. (You probably won’t need much because the feta is nice and salty.)

d. Add the eggs to the spinach, and stir to combine.

4. For the lamb layer:

a. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat, and add the onions and garlic. Season with salt. Cook until they start to become fragrant and slightly translucent, a few minutes.

b. Add the lamb to the pan, increase to high heat, and cook, breaking up the lamb, until it is cooked through.

5. To make the pie:

a. If you are doing a lamb layer, spread the lamb evenly over the rice.

b. Then, spread the spinach evenly over the rice and/or lamb.

c. Sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese, and cover tightly with foil.

d. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

e. Uncover, and bake in the oven another 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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