The thing about greens is that they can get a pretty strong response from people. Unfortunately childhood experiences of being made to eat overcooked grey bland spinach can leave its mark on one’s memory. When I was pregnant with my first son, living in Chile on a pretty tight budget, I had a desperate craving for greens. To my luck, I met a resourceful and very interesting English girl who gave me unbridled access to her veggie patch. Greens everywhere, abundant. I was like a locust, and the love affair started. It looks very weird in writing, but I do truly love greens.
Leafy greens such as spinach, silver beet, kale, chard can grow with ease at home. I have grown them on my windowsill, in egg cartons and these days, in my veggie patch.
The great thing about leafy greens is that they are so robust, they grow of their own volition. Sorrell grows all year round, I just pick the leaves off as I need them.
Fresh young leaves can be eaten raw, mixed through salads, stirred through a risotto or pasta sauce before serving. The older the leaves get, the earlier they can be added to a dish.
The thing I really love about them is that they are dish in their own right. A family favourite is spinach and fetta pie, which can really be kale and parmesan pie or sorrel and ricotta pie. It is essentially a mixture of whatever greens you can get your hands on, mixed with whatever cheese you can get your hands on. It never fails. I was chatting with my friend Kate the other day, and she was telling me of her father’s famous spinach and fetta pie. Lot’s of ingredients, but most importantly, chorizo. That was her Sunday Lunch. Here is my version.
Spinach and Fetta Pie
- Leafy greens – large bunch
- Finely sliced onion
- Fresh nutmeg
- Handful of rice
- Cheese (as many or a little as you want)
Wash the greens and the herbs thoroughly and leave to drain so that there is little moisture left. Soften the onion in a pan and add the greens with the herbs. Cook to soften and remove some of the moisture, but not for very long, they need to keep their colour. During this time, add the rice and stir through. When ready, turn off the heat, add the grated nutmeg and pepper. Allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Mix the cheeses with the spinach and herbs. If the mixture looks dry, I often add a whisked egg, but this is not necessary. Line a pie dish with pastry add the mixture, put pastry lid on top. Wash the pastry with milk, or oil. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until golden.
Serve hot or cold. We use it in lunches cold when we have left overs.
The mixture above can also be used to make lasagne or cannelloni. I make (or usually buy) fresh lasagne sheets and roll the mixture, in the shape of a tube, in the sheets. I line a baking dish with the little parcels and put a fresh tomato pasta sauce on top. With a sprinkle of cheese it in baked for 30 minutes. Yummy.