For the entrée, I made Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage. I bought a beautiful Ciabatta baguette. I love to pile spoonfuls of the Greek Village Salad on top of slices of the toasted baguette bread. I could eat this “village salad” every day and never think twice!
For the dressing, a simple Greek Vinaigrette served on the side. The reason for this is, the salad stays crisp and it allows all the ingredients to keep their integrity. If you have extra dressing, store the leftover jar with a tight-fitting lid.
After the salads were plated, I drizzled a couple of spoonfuls of the vinaigrette over top and then tossed. The vinaigrette is super flavorful and ties the whole salad together.
The Greek salad, also known as the Greek Village Salad (Horiatiki), is made with no leafy greens or lettuce. Trust me when I say, “You won’t miss the lettuce!” There are so many flavors, textures, and colors working together to make this salad a winner. It’s healthy, light, and super satisfying.
While visiting Steve’s mom, I asked her, “If you could go anywhere, in the world, for dinner, where would you like to go.” Her answer, “Greece!” Today we’re having Spanakopita With A Greek Village Salad, but with a twist.
This is not exactly your traditional Spanakopita. I’m going to be adding sweet Italian sausage to the filling.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 25 hours 35 minutes
Yields: 12 Spanakopita (entrée size)
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, chef’s knife, cheesecloth, 1 fine-mesh sieve, 1 large mixing bowl, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, rubber spatula, small saucepot, pastry brush, 1 (8-ounce) jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid
Ingredients For Spanakopita:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (5 links), casings removed (meat-filled Spanakopita optional)
2 (10-ounce) boxes of frozen spinach (thawed and drained of excess water)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, freshly grated
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of marjoram or oregano leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 fronds of fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 (4-ounce) package of Goat cheese, crumbled
1 (7-ounce) package of Feta cheese, cubed
2 packages of Phyllo dough sheets (24 sheets)
2 sticks of butter, unsalted and melted, (reserve 1/2 stick of melted butter for the top)
11/2 cups of Italian-seasoned bread crumbs, (reserve 1/2 cup of the top of each Spanakopita)
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Optional Tip: I like to add 2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes to the Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs for extra color.
The Day Before…
Start by thawing the frozen spinach. Place the spinach into a fine-mesh sieve, fitted with a piece of cheesecloth, set on top of a medium-size mixing bowl on the counter overnight.
The Day of…
Gather the cheesecloth together and squeeze as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a large dry sauté pan over medium-high heat, add sweet Italian sausage. Start breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes, add the diced onion, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, freshly grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions have softened, another 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the grease in the pan, transfer the sausage mixture into the bowl with the spinach.
In a small saucepot, over medium-low heat melt the butter. Add the breadcrumbs cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until a light golden brown. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the finely Italian flat-leaf parsley toss to combine. Set aside.
In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the beaten eggs to the cooled sausage and spinach mixture. Add the Goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and Feta cheese to the sausage and spinach mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, gently mix to combine. Set aside.
Remove the phyllo dough from the refrigerator. Carefully unfold the sheets of phyllo dough laying them on a flat surface covered with a damp towel.
Directions For Spanakopita:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Carefully peel one sheet of phyllo dough from the stack and arrange on a work surface with the short nearest you (keep the remaining sheets of dough covered). Using a pastry brush, brush with melted butter and sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the entire sheet of dough. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs until 4 sheets are completed.
Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise, making two large strips. On the first strip, place 1/3 cup of the filling on the shorter end, nearest you, then fold the corner of phyllo over to enclose the filling and form a triangle shape. Continue folding the strip up (like a flag) maintaining a triangle shape until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed. Repeat this process with the second strip.
Repeat these steps until all the phyllo dough and filling are used.
Place the filled pastries, seam-side down onto a rimmed baking sheet pan. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs. Sprinkle each one with a pinch of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until phyllo is golden and crisp.
Transfer to a rack to cool slightly. There you have it, my Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage.
Note: Pastry triangles can be formed, but not baked, 3 days ahead. Arrange in one layer in a large heavy-duty sealed plastic baggie, then freeze. Bake frozen pastries (DO NOT THAW) in the same manner as above.