The only Turkish cafe in town has stopped serving lunch. They still cater, and if you wake up early on Saturday morning, you can purchase their delicious food at the Farmer’s Market, but, in Louanne’s universe, that’s just not going to happen. So, I’ve been reading everything I can on Turkish cuisine (big surprise there, right?) as well as downloading the Kindle version of Claudia Roden’s Arabesque.
Her recipe for Creamy Phyllo Spinach Pie called out to me, and because I had a lovely bunch of Swiss Chard, aka silverbeet, in my CSA bag, my decision was made. Of course, me, being me, couldn’t just go with the recipe as written. Nope, I went my own way, using bits of recipes that I found appealing and hoped for the best.
So, the outcome? A delicious, creamy Spanakopita that’s different from the Greek version, but just as addictive. The main difference in my Turkish version as compared to my Greek version was the total lack of butter. Rather than brushing each layer with melted butter, a mixture of milk, egg, and extra virgin olive oil is used between each sheet. The result lacks the crispiness achieved with butter, but it’s meltingly soft and unctuous. Don’t ask me to choose between the two, because I can’t. I love both versions, but if you’re looking for something with less fat, this Turkish version is the way to go. If you want the Greek version, click here for my recipe.
1 bunch (1lb) spinach or swiss chard (silverbeet), washed
1 large onion, diced
16 oz cottage cheese, drained (you should have about 1.5 cups remaining)
4 oz feta, crumbled
1 cup milk (I used skim)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 lb phyllo sheets, defrosted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Trim stems from chard and roughly chop. If using spinach, roughly chop
Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan; add onion, red pepper flakes, if using, and cook until translucent.
Add chard and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until wilted; remove from heat.
Pour cottage cheese into a fine mesh colander and with the back of a spoon, press out as much of the liquid as possible. You should have about 1.5 cups.
Add drained cottage cheese and feta to the chard mixture, mix and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper.
In a measuring cup, blend together the milk, eggs, and remaining 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Grease a 13×9 pan with non-stick spray.
Lay a sheet of phyllo, generously brush with milk mixture. Repeat process, until you have added a total of 10 sheets of phyllo.
Add the chard mixture on top of the 10th sheet.
Repeat process with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing with the milk mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes; remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares.