Tag Archives: greek

Pumpkin and Spinach Phyllo Pie

27 Nov

It’s a good thing to start new traditions… I am a very family-oriented person and I love family gatherings. However, my family is spread all over and we no longer get-together as a family like we used to. You see… we used to gather every holiday in my grandma’s house – Xmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 3 Kings Day… but now that she’s no longer with us, people don’t see the need to get together as a family anymore.

I invited my mom, my uncle, my aunt and her husband to my house for a Thanksgiving lunch. Lunch is what we always celebrated together… but everyone already had plans so it was only my mom and I this year. This is a new family tradition – vegetarian Thanksgiving lunch @ Madelyn’s.

My aunt gave me 2 large pumpkin pieces a few days back and I decided this Thanksgiving would be a study in pumpkin, if you will. Titi Carmín might have been busy doing her thing, but she was all over this Thanksgiving dinner…

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw in The New York Times… but I adapted it to make it with the ingredients I had available at home. I was not going to be a slave to running to the grocery store at the last minute to make something by a recipe. So I urge you to also tweak this recipe to fit your taste and the ingredients you might have available.

PUMPKIN AND SPINACH PHYLLO PIE

1 cup pumpkin, cut into small pieces
½ cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 leek, cleaned well and chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped
1 small tart apple, peeled and cut into 1” pieces, like Granny Smith
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup 4 cheese blend of grated cheeses
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
3/4 pound phyllo dough, thawed and at room temperature (more if needed)
 
 
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and oil the foil. Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet and season with salt, pepper, olive oil and a few thyme sprigs. Place in the oven. Bake until tender, 30 to40 minutes. Every so often, turn the pieces over so they brown on most sides. Remove from the oven and transfer them to a bowl to cool. You can do this the day before if you want.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the leeks. Cook, stirring, until leeks are tender and just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add the apples pieces and the spinach. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Turn the heat off and add the pumpkin. Stir to combine and to warm the pumpkin if you cooked some time ahead. Stir in the walnuts, goat cheese, and grated cheese blend. Set aside.

3.  Brush a pie pan or small glass pyrex pan with olive oil and line the bottom with parchment. Brush the parchment with olive oil.

4.  Unroll the phyllo dough. Keep it covered with a damp towel. Take a sheet of phyllo and place it on your work surface. Brush lightly with olive oil and place another sheet on top. Fold the two layers in half. Place on the bottom of your pan, don’t mind any overhang. Add your filling over the phyllo sheets. Bring any overhang of phyllo to top the filling. Cover the filling with a few additional phyllo sheets that have been brushed with olive oil just like the first ones. No need to be super careful, the last phyllo sheet I like to crumble on top to give it a rustic look.

5.  Bake on the middle rack of a large oven at 400F for 50 to 60 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I make this on my toaster oven where the coil is very close to the pie top. So if you find the top is browning too fast, just place a loose sheet of aluminum paper on top to avoid any over browning. In my toaster oven this cooked for only 25-30 minutes.

You can serve this hot or warm.

I usually go Italian for my Thanksgiving menus – making lasagnas, risottos or polentas in past years. So it was refreshing for me to go the Greek route this year. I might have to do this again… this was delicious and very easy to make.

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Lunch @ Panera Bread

15 Oct

I am sandwich lover… I could live off sandwiches my whole life. That should be no secret to you guys…

My sister is always raving about . Florida is full of them. She’s always bragging about how good the bread is, how delicious the sandwiches are. But I am a picky person… picky in the sense that if I do not see exactly what I like or crave that moment on the menu, I think places should make an effort to please me as best they can.

I have become a master of navigating thru a restaurant’s menu and identifying what is it exactly that I can and want to eat. And my former experiences with Panera Bread were not positive. I can’t pin point now what it was… but I remember looking at the menu over and over and over again trying to figure out how to build a sandwich that would hit the spot. Because of that impression, I would drive past Panera Bread places without thinking too much into them.

But recently I was driving from Orlando to Miami and we needed to eat something before we left on our 4 hour drive south. I tried several places I was more interested in eating but fate would have it that the best place suitable was Panera Bread, so we decided to give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised to find on their menus these Sandwich and Salad combos. They also have soups, but I never trust soups at restaurants, even if they say they’re vegetarian. Besides, it was hot outside and my stomach preferred the cold bit of a salad to the warmth of a soup. Besides I always feel I am not being that naughty when I eat lots of bread and cheese if somehow it’s paired with a large and abundant salad.

I was pleasantly surprised to see they had 2 vegetarian sandwich options on their menu… This is what we ordered:

 Caprese Panini with Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil pressed in a baguette with a Greek Salad

Veggie Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread with a Garden Salad

The salads were extremely generous and the ½ sandwiches were just enough to fill us up. The lunches tasted fresh and hearty at the same time. I liked it so much to the point of starting to crave the same thing the next day and the next day. That to me is the sign of a good meal… when you are willing to have the same thing every day for a few days straight.

So to my vegetarian friends… if you’re ever in a pinch to select something for lunch, give Panera Bread a try. I may not have been blown away the first time I tried them, but it paid off to give them another try. People and places always deserve second chances… no??

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