Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spanakopita with Kale (Kale-o-kopita)


Spanakopita has always been one of my favorite Greek dishes. Unfortunately, since I have developed a sensitivity to spinach (of all things, right?), I can no longer have a traditional spanakopita. However, making spanakopita with alternate ingredients has been in my bucket list of cooking.

Kale parcels serving
Served with a quick Greek-style salad
Kale actually gave the ultimate substitute. It gives me the green look of spinach and great nutritional value. It is also good that I love kale and it has become one of our staples, particularly the curly kale. In fact, if I eat more kale! My hair may turn curly and green.

The docs also gave me specific orders to avoid feta cheese (ugh), something about it being a soft cheese. As a result, I have another challenge in my hands. I can have cream cheese, so that gives me a start, but it would not give me that distinct feta taste.

Since I have some of the basics, I have been sleeping with and meditating on the cookbook that we bought at our favorite Greek Festival in Oakland. I also have been researching recipes on the web. It is classic me: I went into my usual analysis-paralysis.

Then I procrastinated since I did not want to bake in the summer: 90 degree temperatures, you know. But now that it's winter, I don't mind a hot oven (in fact, I welcome it). It is time to pursue it.


Making phyllo parcels
Preparing the parcels
I decided that Christmas week would be the perfect time to try this recipe out. I have a lot of time and I can get what I have been visualizing into reality. Besides, I should complete my goals before year-end.

And to make it more difficult for me, I decided to use the parcel technique that I learned from Giada and initially used in my baklava. I figured this will make my kale-o-kopita more portable.

This time I was well-prepared for working with phyllo. I have a small kitchen, so I cleared my counter space. I needed to hang the cook book from a hanger to create more room!

Here's what I have so far. Please note, this was only tested once... let me know what you think.


Mad Gourmet’s Cheesy Kale Phyllo Parchments (or Kale-o-kopita)
Based on several Spanakopita recipes from Kali Orexi!
A collection of recipes by the Philoptochos Society of the Ascension Cathedral
In Oakland, California

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of kale, about 10 cups of kale
  • 1 leek (about a cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz cream cheese (I used light)
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp of Italian seasoning, divided
  • 15 sheets of phyllo
  • About a stick of butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil


Directions: 
  1. Cut kale in fine pieces and squeeze the water out. Set aside.
  2. Cook leeks in olive oil until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add kale, cream cheese and Parmesian cheese to the leeks (I microwaved the cream cheese for about 30 seconds to soften before adding to the mixture). Mix well. Set aside.
  4. Melt butter and let cool. Mix olive oil in the butter.
  5. On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of phyllo. Using a pastry brush and the remaining melted butter, lightly cover the entire sheet of phyllo with melted butter and olive oil.
  6. Cover the first sheet with a second sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter mixture. Continue until there is a stack of 5 sheets of phyllo.
  7. Cut the stacked phyllo rectangle into 4 equal pieces (Cut lengthwise into 2 pieces and widthwise into 2 pieces. This will end up into a rectangular shape).
  8. Carefully press each cut piece of phyllo into greased muffin tin cups. Press 2 tablespoons of the kale mixture into each of the phyllo cups.
  9. Gather the ends of each of the phyllo squares and tuck to make a sachet shape.
  10. Continue shaping the remaining sachets in the other mini-muffin tin.
  11. Bake until the edges of the phyllo are golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.



Verdict

Kale Parcels crosssection
Yummy! Looks just like spanakopita!
One bite brought my husband and I back to Greece, strolling through Plaka or exploring the alleys and streets in Mykonos or just relaxing in Santorini. It was great.

Although, I thought it can use a bit more tweaking, my husband thought it is perfect as it is. I think it can use more Italian seasoning to make the cream cheese taste more like feta, maybe another half teaspoon or a full one. I could try to use fresh herbs too, but that would require more.

My other dilemma when I was planning this was what to do with the extra phyllo. I remember the last time I used phyllo, when I made bastilla, I ended up with a bunch of extras. This time by accident, I bought a packet that has two separate phyllo rolls (YES!) which means I will can have another phyllo adventure mid-January.

Phyllo cups
Bonus! Phyllo cups!
I still ended up with had some extra phyllo, about six sheets. So, I made myself some phyllo cups! It’s cheaper than buying a packet. Then, I can use it to get a pre-taste of my creation or for some cheesy sundried tomato scrambled egg cups the next morning.

In my curiousity, I asked Google translate what kale is in Greek. Google says that Kale in Greek is λάχανο or lachano. So, does this make this Lachanokopita?

Kali orexi!

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