Holidays always remind me of how much family activities are rooted in tradition. For instance, here it is Easter. While we’ve all grown older, evolved to new levels of maturity and experience, and are living somewhat different lives than we did when I was 7, certain traditions stay the same. They are rooted, so to speak. Sometimes that means we all partake in the same tradition as we’ve always done, such as watching golf on TV with Dad between exits to the front yard to toss the frisbee, play with a ball or check on the bbq. It’s something you can set time to, it never changes. Sometimes it means the new generation takes on the tradition, such as my nephew devouring his jelly beans before 12pm. That used to me my job, but I watch proudly as he takes the helm on O.D’ing on candy ;)
The Easter meal is also a very much rooted in tradition. It’s always lamb. As a kid I HATED that but now my palate is a little more savvy, so it’s a real treat. Given that mom is Greek and Easter is a big deal in Greek culture (though it’s celebrated NEXT Sunday, which is Orthodox Easter), it was all about Greek food. How could I grow up detesting the tray of Kalamata olives, feta and spanikopita that kept us fed until the big mid-day meal? Who knows? Apparently those decadent tastes don’t mix well with peeps.
I decided to take on the tradition of contributing to the family meal this year buy whipping up my own version of Spanikopita – Off White style. It’s a new twist on an old tradition. Here is the recipe. I think it’s a good one:
1 package of Whole Wheat Phyllo dough (Health food store)
1 large onion, diced
2-3 lbs of greens, chopped (I mixed kale and spinach)
2 stbsp chopped parsley
4 whole eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz part-skim ricotta
5 oz feta (I used an Israeli feta because it’s the only deli feta I could find)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp: dill, nutmeg, pepper, oregano
2 tsp sea salt
Olive oil to baste the phyllo dough, preferrably with a basting brush
Sautee the onions in oil for 3 minutes. Add the greens/parsley and cook down until they are soft. Mix the pepper and lemon juice and 1tsp of sea salt with the greens in the pan while cooking. Cook down for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, mix the eggs, ricotta, feta, spices in a very large bowl. Add the spices and mix. When the greens are done cooking, mix into the egg/cheese mixture.
In a 9×12 pan, lightly coat the bottom of the pan w/oil. Add 3 layers of phyllo dough and lightly baste with oil. Repeat 3-4x so there are 9-12 pieces of phyllo. Add the greens/egg mixture. Cover with 3 layers of phyllo dough and lightly coat with oil, just as we did for the bottom layer. The top should have about 9-10 pieces of phyllo. Trim the edges of dough so it’s not hanging over the pan (it bakes and gets crispy and just flakes off, making a mess).
Bake on the middle rack @350 for 45 minutes, covered. You can uncover for the last 5 min if you want a browned top.
Serve warm or cold, but always with love!