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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spinach Pie aka Mock Spinach Empanada

We are off to the land of empanadas and grilled meat to eat until our bellies are bursting. Amazing food coupled with tours in wine country makes Argentina the perfect place for us to spend a few weeks recharging,

A true empanada, whether Argentinian or Spanish, would be wrapped in dough made from scratch; however not everyone wants to or has time to undertake scratch dough. That's where frozen phyllo dough steps in to produce a delicious mock empanada.

Light, airy and crunchy pockets of dough stuffed with sauteed garlicky spinach and melted rich white cheddar cheese.... whether you call it an empanada or a spinach pie, it's filling, tasty and flat out outstanding. Eat these while hot or at room temperature with a fresh side salad.

We will eat our share of true empanadas soon and I'll come back home to share various new dough techniques on this food blog. but in the meantime these simple fat and happy versions should not be missed!

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tips and Techniques: Leeks are a dirty vegetable, the layers act as a complete dirt magnet. To clean, trim off the green ends and the white base. Remove any ragged outer layers. Cut the leek in halve lengthwise and rinse well under running water, working water through each layer. You can also chop the leek in pieces and soak in a bowl of cold water allowing the sand to fall to the bottom of the bowl.

Spinach Pie 
aka Mock Spinach Empanada

2 Tbls Olive oil
2 Leeks (or substitute onions or c), diced
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
4-6 cups Spinach, cleaned and rough chopped
1 package frozen phyllo dough
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 egg

Remove the phyllo dough from the freezer, follow package instructions to thaw. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

While the dough is defrosting make the spinach filling. Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan and add in the leeks. Cook about 5 minutes or until the leeks begin to soften, tossing often. Add in the garlic, turmeric, red pepper flakes and spinach. Cook until spinach is cooked down and has reduced; this will take about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Slightly roll out the phyllo dough so it's not too thick. Cut large circles in the dough, you should get about 4 circles of dough out of each phyllo sheet. Place a heaping scoop of cooled spinach filling on one side of each dough circle. Top the spinach with desired amout of shredded cheese.

Close the pie by pulling half of the circle over the top of the filling so the edges meet, creating a half moon shape. Pinch the edges together, if the dough has become dry you may need to rub the edges with a little water to get them to stick.

Whisk together one egg and 1 tsp of water. Brush the top of the pies with the egg mixture; this will help give them a golden brown color.

Place the spinach pies on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the dough is puffy and golden brown, around 20 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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