June is the start of festival season in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Over the years, going to the various festivals have become tradition and a unique way to socialize and party with friends. All over the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Atlantic areas are international festivals, such as Greek, Italian, Irish, Scottish and German. All are favorites with lots of cultural music, dancing and tasty treats to sample.
The first on my list of festival travels is the Wilmington Delaware Greek Festival. This year is a drive by process with the promise of a larger “in person” festival later in September. Either way, Greek Food is a must to try. My favorites are the Spanakopita or Spinach Cheese pie and the Dolmades or Stuffed Grape Leaves. Below is a tasty crisp Spinach Cheese pie that can be served as a meal with side dishes or as an appetizer. I often found that many international dishes can be expanded by adding additional ingredient. For example, in this version, add shredded chicken and pine nuts adds a whole new dimension to the dish.
Spanakopita – Spinach Cheese Pie
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, chopped
- 3 bunches scallions, white and green parts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 4 ounces feta cheese
- 2 cups grated kefalotiri or Romano cheese
- ⅓ cup chopped dill
- ⅓ cup chopped mint
- ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons farina
For the pie:
- 1 pound phyllo, at room temperature
- ½ – ¾ cup butter
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 tablespoon water
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, steam the spinach for about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside. Return the pan to the burner and add the scallions and olive oil.
Sauté for about 3–4 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach with the scallions. Stir in the cream cheese, feta, kefalotiri cheese, dill, mint, parsley, pepper, eggs, and farina. Mix well.
Prepare the pie.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and butter a 9×13 baking dish.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt ½ cup of butter. Lay out 1 phyllo sheet in the baking dish. Brush it with butter. Repeat layering and buttering for the next 11 phyllo sheets.
Top the phyllo evenly with the prepared filling. Top it with 1 phyllo sheet, butter it, and repeat for the next 11 sheets, buttering each. (Melt more butter if needed.)
Combine the egg yolk with the water, and mix well. Brush the egg yolk and water mixture over the top. Bake for 45–60 minutes, until the top is brown. Serve warm.
Options: Shredded Chicken and pine nuts can be added to the filling for a different taste.