Pumpkin 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Homemade phyllo! I want to try this someday.
- 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.
- The recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Arrange in a 9″ X 13″ baking dish.
- Triangles! Ultimate finger food.
Best eaten fresh. Store any leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat & crisp in a 375 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
Fall through winter.