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Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage

Spanakopita-1

Spanakopita (2)

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.

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Onions

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Spanakopita-1

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.

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Spanakopita (2)

Spanakopita-1

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 pan, cheesecloth, a fine-mesh sieve, large mixing bowl, medium-size mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, large 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
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
1 lemon, zested and juiced
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)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted and melted
1 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs

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 on 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, crushed 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 to a small mixing bowl. 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.

Greek Village Salad

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Greek Village Salad

Greek Village Salad (2)

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Horiatiki or Greek Village Salad is a traditional Greek salad with no lettuce. Rustic and simple to make.

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Hot House Cucumber

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Red Onion

grape tomatoes

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Kalamata Olives

Kalamata Olives (2)

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Oregano

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Mint

Fresh Mint Leaves

E.V.O.O.

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Ciabatta

Olive Oil

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Greek Village Salad (2)

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: large mixing bowl, chef’s knife, 1 (8-ounce) jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid, tongs

Ingredients For Greek Vinaigrette:
1 large lemon, juiced (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1/2 clove of garlic, freshly grated
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.
1 tablespoon of Feta, finely crumbled
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Directions For  the Greek Vinaigrette:
Place all the above ingredients into an 8-ounce jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well before using. Store at room temperature.
Note: For extra Greek Vinaigrette, double the recipe.

Ingredients For  the Greek Village Salad:
2 pints of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1 hothouse cucumber (English cucumber) slice into half-moons then quartered
1 (7-ounce) package of organic feta cheese, 1 1/2-inch cube
1/2 red onion, cut into half-moons, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of whole Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 loaf of Ciabatta bread, sliced (14 to 16 slices)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

1 package of Gyro/pita bread grilled (no oil needed)

Directions For Grilled Ciabatta/ Pita Bread:
Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Arrange the sliced Ciabatta onto the grill pan. Drizzle the olive oil over each slice. Sprinkle each slice with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a bread basket lined with paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature.

For the Gyro/pita bread, place two at a time on the grill pan. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cut in half then in half again forming four triangles.

Directions For Greek Salad:
In a large mixing bowl add the halved tomatoes, sliced onions, diced cucumber, Kalamata olives (optional), diced feta cheese, freshly chopped oregano leaves, and freshly chopped mint leaves. Gently toss to combine.

Transfer the Greek Village Salad into a large salad bowl. Shake up the Greek Vinaigrette really well. Start by adding 1/2 cup of the Greek Vinaigrette over the salad, toss to combine. Add more if needed.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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