Spanokopita A La Haida Gwaii

Cooking on the Rising Tide by Kris Leach: This is the time of year to begin harvesting local wild greens.

  • Apr. 1, 2016 7:00 a.m.

I promised a friend that I would deliver a recipe concerning the remaining berries left in the freezer from last summer….but my yearning for fresh greens right now will have to take precedence this week.  For those of you lucky to still have berries in your freezer, use them straight out of the freezer with your oatmeal in the morning, make some jam, or let them thaw, adding a little bit of sweetener using them for pancakes or a plain white cake (angel food is nice) with whipped cream.  How about a Pavlova?  Meringue and frozen thawed berries is decadent, different, and delightful!  Stewed Rhubarb with a touch of cream added when serving helps mellow out the tartness of the rhubarb without overdoing it with the sugar.

These are nice things to have on your table on the blustery days of February….but my body and soul are craving fresh greens right now.  This is the time of year to begin harvesting local wild greens.  The chickweed is already starting to flower which makes it not quite as desirable because of the seeds, but is still a tasty free green which is prolific in my garden.

Also the dandelion greens, nettles and the sour grass are up and ready for picking.   I have written about wild harvesting before, and if you keep an open mind, and are mindful of washing the sand and salt off your food before you use it, these wild offerings are available for all of us to use even when the ferry doesn’t arrive with our fresh spinach aboard!

Even better, they are healthier because they are fresher (read more nutrients) just picked, and they are free.  If you have a friend who has a garden, they would be delighted to have you pick any of their “extra” weeds, and nettles if you don’t already have a favorite patch to pick your own, and are sometimes available at the farmers markets.  When picking wild greens, try to find an area away from highway traffic, as the roadside tends to be dusty and laden with chemicals from vehicles and salt.


Spanakopita a la Haida Gwaii

2c. Feta cheese, crumbled

5 eggs

2 T. flour

2 c. cottage cheese

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. basil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups fresh wild greens (dandelion, stinging nettles, chickweed, sour grass)

1c. fresh spinach, chard or kale

1 onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves chopped

3 T. butter

1 box Phyllo pastry, thawed

1 c. butter (or a mixture of butter and olive oil) melted

Begin by thoroughly washing the greens, stemming and chopping then sautéing over medium heat for about five minutes until everything is nicely wilted.  I don’t add any extra water, as there is enough juice in the greens to keep from sticking to the pan.  Add to the greens the feta, eggs, flour, cottage cheese and spices, set aside.  Saute the garlic and onion in 1 T. butter until soft, add to feta and greens and mix well.

Assembling the pie you can use a buttered 9×13 pan, placing a Phyllo leaf in the pan brushing generously with the melted butter or butter olive oil combo until you have 8 layers. Spread with half the filling. Continue with another stack of 8 layers, spread on the other half of the filling.  Place the remaining Phyllo in buttered layers.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden.

I also like to make Spanakopita triangles, they are a bit more work, but are really nice for appetizers.  Begin by cutting the entire stack of Phyllo layers in 3 strips lengthwise (they’ll be approximately 3inches wide by S11 inches long).  Cover the other two stacks with a damp towel so they don’t dry out while you’re working with the first stack of strips.  Brush one strip with melted butter down the entire length.  Place a Tbsp. of filling at the bottom of the first strip then fold into a triangular shape,(like folding a flag) placing the completed Spanakopita triangles onto a baking sheet.  Continue shaping until all of the filling and Phyllo is used up.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.

These can be frozen unbaked for later use by layering them between sheets of parchment or waxed paper and wrapped well before placing in the freezer.  To bake, place frozen in a single layer at 350 degrees and add about 10 minutes longer to the baking time.

And there you have it…when the frost burns off this morning I’ll be heading out to shop local; as in heads down, bums up picking for my dinner!


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