Spanakopita & Eggplant Pizza Bites
Here is what I grazed on all day of the Superbowl: a beef taquito, potato chips and French onion dip, everything bagel pretzel chips and queso, a liter of Coke, buffalo wings, celery and blue cheese dip, a handful of super sour candy, and two gin and tonics with lime. No wonder I woke up at 2am with nasty acid reflux. After that Chiefs loss, I’m still trying to figure out if that binge was worth it!
SO, back to a week of healthy Mediterranean dishes. These are so GOOD, it just doesn’t feel like deprivation. Spanakopita is classic. This version is baked in a casserole dish, but you could assemble the cute triangle pockets (too fussy for me; I struggle enough with the phyllo). Top it with an over easy egg and you have a sexy breakfast.
The eggplant bites really surprised me. I’m not a huge fan of any of these vegetables, but together, whoa. Use your favorite marinara for a smart shortcut. Like any pizza, use up any bits you have in the fridge. Try spinach, basil, roasted tomatoes, red onion, or kalamata olives. I used mozzarella, but try using just fresh grated Parmesan or gouda. Get to the kitchen right now and feel good about what you’re eating!
Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie)
Makes 12 pieces
For the Spinach and Feta Filling:
16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1-2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, stems trimmed, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ½ ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Plenty of freshly-ground black pepper
For the Crust:
1 16-ounce package phyllo dough, properly thawed (usually Pepperidge Farm, in dessert freezer section)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
Preheat the oven to 325.
Before you begin mixing the filling, be sure the spinach is very well drained, and squeeze out any excess liquid by hand. To make the filling: In a mixing bowl, add the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients. Stir until all is well-combined.
Unroll the phyllo sheets and place them between two slightly damp kitchen cloths.
Prepare a 9 ½" X 13" baking dish like this one. Brush the bottom and sides of the dish with olive oil.
To assemble the spanakopita: Line the baking dish with two sheets of phyllo letting them cover the sides of the dish. Brush with olive oil. Add two more sheets in the same manner, and brush them with olive oil. Repeat until two-thirds of the phyllo is used up. Now, evenly spread the spinach and feta filling over the phyllo crust. Top with two more sheets, and brush with olive oil.
Continue to layer the phyllo sheets, two-at-a-time, brushing with olive oil, until you have used up all the sheets. Brush the very top layer with olive oil, and sprinkle with just a few drops of water. Fold the flaps or excess from the sides, you can crumble them a little. Brush the folded sides well with olive oil.
Bake in the 325 heated-oven for 1 hour, or until the phyllo crust is crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven. Finish cutting into squares and serve.
Eggplant pizza bites
1 eggplant, sliced into ½-inch rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced portobello mushrooms
1 small sliced zucchini
1 cup marinara sauce, store-bought (shortcut; Rao’s is best)
10 ounces fresh mozzarella (not pre-shredded)
Heat the oven to 425.
Season the eggplant with Kosher salt on both sides. If you have the time, set the eggplant aside and let it “sweat” for about 20 to 30 minutes then wipe off the beads of water and any excess salt. If you don’t have the time, you can season the eggplant lightly with Kosher salt and move on to the next step.
Prepare a large sheet pan and brush it with extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the eggplant slices in one single layer. Brush the top of each eggplant slice generously with extra virgin olive oil.
Bake on the middle rack of your heated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplant has softened, turning over halfway through.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, tossing regularly until they gain some color. Stir in the zucchini briefly just until starting to soften. Season with a little bit of salt.
When the eggplant is ready, take it out of the oven and top each eggplant slice with 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce and 1 slice of fresh mozzarella.Turn the oven to broil and return the sheet pan to the oven. Broil very briefly watching for the cheese to melt (about 1 to 2 minutes).
Remove the eggplant from the oven. Arrange the mushroom and spinach mixture over the eggplant slices. Enjoy!
-adapted from the mediterraneandish.com