Thursday, June 23, 2011

summer meals

So with the veg box and the veg garden both providing us with assorted delicious things, we occasionally end up with significant amounts of veg. For example, spinach/chard/cavalo nero/leafy greens. I have always loved the idea of spinach & feta pie/tart, but I am the first to admit that they can be bland, mushy old things. So I started on a quest to make my perfect S&F tart. It took several goes, but I think I'm nearly there. And, surprise!, S likes it too. So here it is - my Spinach & Feta tart recipe. Well, its not really a recipe, more like broad guidelines. See what you think.
1. Leaves: you need a lot of leaves. As much as you can get your hands on really. The best tarts come from a blend of chard and spinach, I think, but you can really use almost anything. Baby spinach leaves from the supermarket will do, but they are the least tasty (maybe better for those spinach-shy folks). Anyway, chop some shallots, fry them off gently, add some garlic if you like, then put your leaves in, turn the heat right down and put the lid on. Turn them over a few times, until they wilt down. I usually add them in a few goes, to fit them into the frypan. It is essential that you squeeze your spinach out as much as possible before you put it in the pie - you want as little liquid in the pie as possible.
2. White sauce: You need a small amount of white sauce, made to be quite thick (butter, flour, milk). You can put cheese in if you like, or some mustard, or something else, or nothing.
3. Feta: the better your feta, the better your tart. Have a taste of it before you finish the filling as it seems to vary a lot in saltiness and you might need to adjust your seasoning.
4. Flavours: Here you can be flexible, but I think it really needs the following - herbs (ideally fresh dill and parsley), a little grated lemon zest, and pine nuts. You could also add almost any 'soft' herb, really - basil, oregano, new thyme leaves, chives, and things like capers and olives are also good.

So mix all your components together, except the pine nuts if you're using them.
roll out some pastry. I used to make my own, but actually \I prefer shop puff pastry for this. Half a block is fine. Roll it into a square. Put your filling in the middle, in a sort of flat lump. Sprinkle over your pine nuts. In the picture above I just folded the two edges over, but it works better if you pull the four sides up, with corners out, then fold the corners in. This makes it almost sealed, but not quite. Juices stay in, but it allows some evaporation without the filling getting too dry. Sesame seeds on top is nice too.

So thats it. Nice with a little pinot grigio.
If you are a 'nap cooker' like me (as in, while the kids are having a nap you get most of your dinner cooked so that at 5pm witching hour you can focus on children not sustaining injuries, rather than the evening meal), then this is great - just make as much or as little of it up until you roll out the pastry, then finish it off and put it in the oven for about 15 minutes when you have a few seconds.


Moggle said...

That looks really yummy! I'll have to give it a go.


Yum. Just the recipe I needed to deal with some of the mountain of chard/dill in my mum's garden. Got any good recipes for courgettes?!