Sunday, 5 June 2011

Spinach and Cheese Bake

The food gods haven't been kind to me recently. I must've done something really terrible in a former life. I was beginning to lose the love. It was a scary time.

There was a Moroccan pastilla that was just, well...meh. Strawberry jam that could easily have passed for a power ball. And worst of all, some walnut and honey soda bread that, no matter how long I baked it for, just wasn't ready. It's doubly disappointing when you didn't buy anything else in case of disaster and the shops don't open till four. A lunch of cheese minus soda bread wasn't quite as much fun.

So, owing to the Moroccan pie, I had a big wodge of filo pastry to use up. I wanted to make a 'spanakopita', a greek spinach and feta pie but, after looking at various recipes, I found that the quantities just didn't match with what I could buy from the shops here. So, I decided to make an Emma style Greek pie and just use whatever I could get hold of. It's certainly not a authentic spanakopita which uses leeks and certainly no ricotta. Let's just say I took inspiration from the Greeks shall we. (Before I upset too many people). This here is more of a spinach, feta and ricotta bake with a filo blanket.

With my recent kitchen mishaps still fresh in my memory, it was all a bit tense when it came to the big 'wait'. I watched this like a hawk through the oven door, my subconscious obviously believing that this would help. I was beginning to think I should have kept my ideas securely stored in my brain but woah! STOP PRESS! It only went and worked! I know that it's not going to win any beauty contests any time soon but phew, this tastes gooooood! Cue the celebratory dance.

I'm back in the food groove. Thank you spinach and cheese. You saved me.

Cuts into 8 portions

Adapted from all over cyberspace

I'd say it would be fairly forgiving so if your spinach comes in a bag of 400g and not 450g, don't sweat. If your ricotta tub is 300g instead of 250g, just relax. It would take a lot for this not to turn out yummy.

A little tip for homemade breadcrumbs...dry out your bread in a very low oven until very crisp. It will make super fine, fabulous breadcrumbs.

200g feta Cheese
250g tub of ricotta Cheese
50g freshly grated parmesan
3 large spring onions
100g breadcrumbs
A good grating of nutmeg
Seasoning, to taste
1 egg
450g baby leaf spinach, washed if necessary and chopped
About 10 sheets of shop bought filo pastry
Olive oil, for brushing


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Firstly, put the feta cheese into a large bowl and mash it with a fork until broken down. Add the ricotta and stir into the feta. Taste...just because it's tastes good.

Next tip in the parmasan, spring onion, half of the breadcrumbs, nutmeg and egg and season to taste. Season before you add the egg so you can adjust. Give everything a right good mix.

Now it's time for the spinach. Grab a handful at a time and mix it into the cheese mixture. I recommend getting your hands stuck in. (THE most fun way to cook). When the spinach and cheese mixture is fully combined put it to one side.

Take your tray and give it a little coating of oil. Take your filo pastry from the fridge and carefully unfold. It's super delicate so be really careful when unwrapping it as it will tear if you so much as breath too hard. Cover it with a clean damp towel so it doesn't dry out whilst you're constructing your bake.

I don't know what size your filo will be but you'll need about three layers for the base. (If they're too big and you don't want to trim them, you could let them hang over the side of the tray and fold it back over the bake when the filling has been added). Carefully lay one leaf in your tray and brush with olive oil. Repeat for the other two layers. Now it's time to add that delicious filling. Scatter the remaining breadcrumbs over the base and then carefully spoon over the spinach mix, leveling it out when you're done.

For the top, lay another leaf of filo on top of the mix and brush with oil. Repeat for the remaining 5 sheets. If there's any pastry that needs trimming, you can either trim it or gently tuck it in down the sides like a little blanket.

Now all you've got to do is wait for 40 minutes until it's all golden and crispy. You can eat it still warm from the oven if you like but it also tastes yummy cold. Perfect for a picnic or a lunchbox. It also reheats well in the oven. I popped it in a 150C oven for 10 minutes and it was still good.

Serve with a crisp salad.


  1. This looks really yum. I've been there when it comes to losing the love - Jam not setting, macarons turning into a pink mess, I could go on...
    I love reading your blog; my bread is even better now by using your kneading technique.

  2. Nic
    Glad your bread baking is going well! I actually made some spelt bread yesterday and it was the best loaf I've ever made. I'm not sure if it was the flour or the conditions were just perfect but I'd definitely recommend it. I used half white spelt and half white bread flour and added 1 tbsp of oil. The rest of the recipe was just for a normal loaf.
    I'm going to try it with wholemeal spelt flour next time and maybe up the ratio a bit. I'm going to make another loaf tomorrow to see if it's as good.