Pumpkin Spanakopita

pumpkin spanakopitaPumpkin spanakopita, bitches! Today the US men’s national soccer team kicks off the real deal of World Cup qualifying: The Hex. Ten games over the next eight months that will determine whether or not we go to The Big Show: Brazil 2014. The stakes are high, our fate is uncertain: of course I am nervous. So I am psyching myself up by watching inspiring US Soccer commercials, tacking “bitches!” (complete with obligatory fist pump) onto everything I say, and… making spanakopita.

What, you mean to tell me that you don’t turn to flaky savory pastry when you are gearing up for an important game? Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it: there is something soothing about the chopping, sautéing, mixing; the layering of phyllo dough, the painting of each sheet with a slick of butter, the calming routine of clearing up the mess. And then you have some handy finger food for all of that nervous match day snacking. Not to mention something to wash down all the beer.

I don’t know why I’m so excited about this recipe, honestly. Game day adrenaline, perhaps? It’s good, don’t get me wrong: savory vegetables and cheese tucked into layers & layers of buttery pastry is rarely bad, after all. But I do think it could use a bit of tweaking: some added umami richness, maybe a splash of white wine vinegar for balancing acidity, some chile pepper or smoked paprika, or perhaps something wacky like a touch of maple syrup. Or bacon! Bacon makes everything better. Maybe we should feed some to the US team.

Adapted from Pumpkin Spanakopita in The Great Little Pumpkin Cookbook by Michael Krondl

pumpkin spanakopitaPumpkin Spanakopita

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 oz spinach or other leafy green, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) pumpkin purée
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 oz feta cheese, chopped or crumbled
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • large pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb phyllo dough
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz) butter, melted

METHODS

  1. In a medium dry skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium-low flame, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned and very fragrant, 3 – 5 minutes. Remove to a clean plate to cool. Add olive oil to the skillet and bring to a shimmer over medium-high heat. Add shallots and spinach. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir well to coat vegetables in oil, and sauté until well softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the cooled pine nuts until finely chopped, but not ground. In a large bowl, combine pine nuts, pumpkin, eggs, feta, parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper and spinach mixture. Mix well, taking care to beat the eggs, until well combined.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, lightly butter a medium (6-cup) baking dish. Unroll phyllo dough, trimming sheets, if necessary, to about 2 inches larger than the baking dish on all sides. Lay down 8 – 10 sheets of phyllo, lightly brushing each with butter as you go. Spread about half of the pumpkin mixture over the phyllo; cover with another 5 sheets of dough, brushing butter on each one as before. Spread the remaining half of pumpkin mixture, then top with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter, including the top sheet, and folding in edges as necessary. Bake in the preheated oven until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes prior to slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 – 6.

pumpkin spanakopitaOPTIONS

  1. Homemade phyllo! I want to try this someday.
  2. I made quite a few changes to the original recipe. One helpful change for the nut-intolerant is to replace the nuts with 1/4 cup of bulgur wheat. Also, fresh oregano would make a nice substitute for parsley.
  3. The recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Arrange in a 9″ X 13″ baking dish.
  4. Triangles! Ultimate finger food.

STORE

Best eaten fresh. Store any leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat & crisp in a 375 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

SEASON

Fall through winter.

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18 comments

  1. Love! The picture is gorgeous, you caught my attention with the first line. I find myself talking like that a lot too! I am also a huge sports fan, especially of baseball and hockey, but also of soccer. This looks delish! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This looks rather tasty! I rarely cook with pumpkins although I do use butternut squash quite a lot and they’re pretty similar. And I bloody love pastry so this dish is right up my street. I think I just associate pumpkins with scooping out the innards as a kid during Halloween. Well, when Autumn rolls around I’m gonna get me some pumpkin action!

  3. Liz

    I just recently stumbled upon your blog and started following it, and OMG you are a soccer fan! How perfect. And pumpkin, spinach and phyllo? On my list right after the Meyer lemon shortcake.

      • I doubt they will, Scotland usually finishes last – but that won’t stop me cheering for them. I see the States lost to Honduras today. Too bad, but there’s still more chances.

        • There are: it’s a long qualifying process. But it was a disappointing game with a lot of missed chances. I wish Scotland would qualify for the World Cup again: it’s always more fun with Tartan Army in the house. But who knows? Maybe this year the rugby gods will smile on them.

          • Scotland has the potential, but they lack the confidence. They just don’t seem to think they can or should win. It’s incredibly frustrating to see a generally decent miss so many chances that any other team would grab – so I know the pain of an avoidable defeat.

  4. Anduin

    You say it’s missing something? What about marinated artichoke hearts? Or I think the combination of pumpkin, blue cheese, and sage is just heavenly, especially if you fry the sage. Thanks for this recipe; I will not do the phyllo dough this time but I’m inspired by the flavor combination.

  5. This can’t be missing much! It sounds wonderful to me. I can’t wait to give it a try. I’m really curious about the pumpkin/blue cheese combo. I never would have come up with this combination on my own! :-)

  6. Pingback: Seared Sea Scallops with Pumpkin Gnocchi, Manchego Foam, Fried Sage Leaves, and Toasted Pine Nuts « Fiery Ginger

  7. Pingback: Greek to Me: Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) with Grilled Shrimp and Wild Rice | Fiery Ginger

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