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Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage

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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 a 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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Oregano

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thyme (2)

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Feta

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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, 8-ounce jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid

Ingredients For Spanakopita:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (5 links), casings removed (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, seated 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 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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Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

 

Spinach Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

This savory Greek-style pie is traditional, #spinachandfeta. Getting Steve to eat any dish that’s filled with only spinach and cheese wouldn’t pique his interest so I thought I’d add sweet Italian sausage to this recipe. This is my Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage.

This recipe can totally be vegetarian by just leaving out the meat. You could even substitute mushrooms, that would be delicious too.

Dealing with phyllo dough may have you saying, that’s too much work. Yes, it can seem a bit overwhelming, trust me, it’s not hard at all.

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The next step is to prepare the savory filling for this pie.

Onions

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thyme (1)

thyme (2)

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Oregano

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Feta

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Score the Phyllo dough before baking.

Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

Spinach Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

 

 

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes for the filling
Prep Time: 30 minutes, assembling the dish
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cooking Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 25 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 12 Servings
Equipment: 9″ x 11″ baking dish, paring knife, 2 large mixing bowls, mesh sieve, 12-inch sauté pan, small bowl, microwave-safe bowl, pastry brush, Microplane

Note: if you’re making this dish meat-free, substitute another 5 (10-ounce) boxes of frozen leafy spinach for a total of 8.

Ingredients:
2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
3 (10-ounce) boxes of frozen leafy spinach (thawed and all excess water removed)
1 diced onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly grated
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of fresh marjoram or oregano, finely chopped
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
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
4 ounces of Goat cheese, crumbled
7 ounces of Feta cheese, cubed
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 box of Phyllo dough sheets (yields 2 rolls approx. 20 sheets of Phyllo total)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted and melted
1/4 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven 350-degrees F.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 11 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Defrost and drain the frozen spinach overnight. The picture above shows the frozen spinach sitting in a mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl. Since the spinach is frozen solid it’s best to leave it out on the counter overnight. The next day, remove the bowl discarding the liquid. Using your hands, wring out any remaining water from the spinach.

If you were going to do this on the same day, defrost the spinach in the microwave, then let it cool down to where you could handle it, and squeeze the water out by hand. You could even place all the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out that way. Most importantly, get as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl. 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 soften, another 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, leave as much of the grease behind in the pan, transferring the sausage mixture into the bowl containing the spinach. Let the sausage mixture cool completely before adding the cheese and eggs.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper together. Add the beaten eggs to the sausage and spinach mixture. Add the Goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and cubed Feta to the sausage and spinach mixture. Gently stir to combine not to break up the cheese too much. The filling is done. Set aside.

Next, the Phyllo dough.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a small bowl add the bread crumbs. Set the two bowls in hands-reach when layering the phyllo dough.

Note: When working with Phyllo dough you need to move fairly quickly. to prevent the dough from drying out causing it to break or crack.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lay the Phyllo dough sheets out onto a flat surface covered with a damp towel.

Start by laying one sheet of Phyllo dough in the bottom of the baking dish. Liberally brush the sheet of Phyllo dough with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until the first roll of Phyllo dough is complete, about 10 sheets.

Next, spoon the filling spreading evenly over the top of the Phyllo. Repeat the dough process with the remaining roll of Phyllo sheets for the top.

Finish the top layer with a final brushing of melted butter and breadcrumbs. Using a paring knife score the dough down the middle lengthwise, then twice in the opposite direction. Finally, score each square diagonally (refer to the picture above) forming triangles.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the dough, is flaky and golden brown. Allow the dish to rest 15 to 20 minutes giving the filling a chance to set before slicing.

There you have it, my Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage.

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