Friday night I wanted to make a Greek themed dinner. On the menu: Greek Greens and Sweet Onion Pie and Fassolakia Yiahni (Ragout of Fresh Green Beans). Let's start with the winner.
I found some fabulous looking pole beans at the local grocery, so I used them, red potatoes, and canned tomatoes. I cooked according to the recipe (see below), except I was fresh out of dried chilis, so I subbed a tsp. (or two) of chili garlic sauce.
This recipe is so simple and easy to make, yet the final product is definitely one of those that is greater than the sum of its parts. I love, love , love this recipe. Thanks to former Lexington Supper Clubber Patt B. for sharing her scaled down (in calories and fat, definitely not in taste) version of this dish.
Fassolakia Yiahni (Ragout of Fresh Green Beans)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (Patt lightened this from 1/4 cup! EEK!)
2 medium onions, halved and very thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 pounds fresh green beans, topped and tailed
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 – 5 tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped, or 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 small dried hot red chili
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a pan large enough to hold all the vegetables, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are meltingly soft – about 10-15 minutes. Add the beans and potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes, intil the vegetables are coated with oil and beginning to soften.
Add the tomatoes and chili and a few tablespoons of water. Simmer for about I hour, adding a little water every so often if necessary. The vegetables are done when they are very softg and the tomatoes are reduced to a thick sauce that naps the vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Though it can be served hot, traditionally, this is served at room temperature.
You might like to top it off with a squirt of lemon, but I did not find this necessary.
Apologies for not having pictures today. My camera was not around for this dinner!
And now on to the LOSER! First, let me confess that it is my fault that it was a loser -- pure operator error here. The Greek Greens and Sweet Onion Pie is absolutely one of my favorite dishes. This is a Cooking Light recipe, and it satisfies the craving for spanikopita. Here is the recipe, as written. I will fill you in, dear reader, with the details on the other side.
Greek Greens and Sweet Onion Pie
2 quarts water
12 cups torn Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound)
8 cups torn spinach (about 1/2 pound)
2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add the chard and spinach; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Place chard mixture on several layers of paper towels; squeeze until barely moist.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add chard mixture, dill, and parsley, stirring well to combine. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Combine chard mixture, cheese, eggs, and egg whites, tossing well to combine. Stir in pepper and salt.
Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface (cover remaining dough to prevent drying); lightly coat phyllo sheet with cooking spray. Place phyllo sheet in a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray, allowing edges to overlap plate rim. Repeat the procedure with 6 additional phyllo sheets, placing sheets in a crisscross design. Spoon the spinach mixture over phyllo. Lightly coat each of remaining 3 phyllo sheets with cooking spray, and place sheets over spinach mixture in a crisscross design. Roll excess phyllo into the dish to create a decorative edge; press lightly to hold. Cut 4 (2-inch) slits in top of pie; cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden. Cut pie into 8 wedges. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 wedges)
CALORIES 312(30% from fat); FAT 10.5g (sat 4.8g,mono 3.5g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 16.1g; CHOLESTEROL 125mg; CALCIUM 264mg; SODIUM 955mg; FIBER 5.9g; IRON 6.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40.3g Cooking Light, APRIL 2004
Okay, simple enough. First red flag -- my local grocery store had "re-set" their frozen food section the day before and gotten rid of the phyllo dough (not that the clerk even knew what "feee-low" was!). So, I trekked on over to a competitor (a store I never go into b/c it is kinda scary), and found some there, albeit at a much higher price. Second red flag -- no Swiss chard to be found in the produce section, and the spinach was pricey and sad looking. So, I opted for 2 big bunches of kale (cheap and pretty).
(*As a side note, I am not a huge greens person, shh! don't rat me out!. I am a PTC taster, and so most greens are bitter to me. But I was pretty sure I had eaten kale before and liked it.....)
Okay, got home, got the green beans cooking, and started cleaning the greens, ripping them up in preparation for steaming (screw blanching them!). Interruptions abounded. My hubby came home, the animals needed to be fed, solicitors were at the door...then some friends showed up to drop off their car for hubby to do a brake job on. By the time they left, I was tired, but determined to wrangle the phyllo and kale into a tasty dinner!
The kale had been steaming the entire time we had company. However, it didn't occur to me that it had been steaming for at least 30 minutes, and yet it was still green and crunchy. Cue the bad omen/foreshadow music.
So, I mixed the greens with the onions, greek seasoning (I don't have the necessary idividual herbs, so I use this great mix from a local herb vendor in Lexington, KY), feta, eggs, etc.
In the pie dish I stick the phyllo, followed by the kale mixture. WOW! It was really mounding up in the pie plate. I didn't remember it being so much before....cue the bad omen music again....Topped it with the remaining phyllo sheets, cut the slits, and popped it into a 375 degree oven.
10 minutes later, and I removed the foil, and put it back in for another 30 minutes.
Timer went off, I let it cool slightly, and cut into to it. It looked good, although there was some water on the bottom of the pie plate. Mmmm...could it just be from the kale?
Sat down on the couch with my plate, got all comfy, and took a bite of lukewarm (at best) greek pie. What? LUKEWARM?????? NO WAY! I went back to the kitchen, and decided that the kale was so dense that the pie had not cooked through all the way, and the liquid in the bottom of the pie plate was uncooked egg! Back in the oven w/ the remaining pie. My piece and hubby's piece went into the toaster oven to speed up the single serving cooking process.
20 minutes later and hubby and I decided to share the big cooked piece. I took two bites and decided it was too bitter and not what I really wanted...so I ate a bunch of the green beans and called it a night. The leftove pie is still sitting in the fridge, awaiting its final resting place (likely the trash at this point).
The worst part is -- I love this recipe! I have made it before with much success. My failure was due to trying to use kale in the place of the greens called for. Well, never again!