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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spinach-Leek Pastry

Saturday, February 12, 2011 By No comments

I've devised this recipe for a far-away friend who does not eat meat. While I am not currently a vegetarian, I did avoid meat for a number of years. So I understand the difficulty in finding new and easy preparations. This isn't necessarily difficult, but it does take almost an hour, with cooking time added in.

Spinach-Leek Pastry
2 leeks (or a mess of green or otherwise mild onions), thinly sliced
1.5 baking potatoes, thinly sliced (can be omitted)
2 cups torn spinach leaves, stems removed
1 8 oz. container of feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
1 cup mozzarella
3 cups milk
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 pkg of puff pastry dough
tbsp flour, and some for dusting
butter, 2 tbsp melted and 2 tbsp just softened
oregano, basil and thyme

Preheat oven to 400. In a large pot or enormous skillet, melt the butter and then saute the garlic, leeks and potatoes with a dash of oregano, basil and thyme, until the potatoes are close to tender.

Dust flour onto a baking pan, and roll out the first pastry sheet. Evenly layer the potato-leek mixture, the torn spinach, feta cheese and mozzarella.

Combine two tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour in a bowl and mix with a fork until very well combined. In a saucepan (or just reuse the first pot, who cares?), melt the butter mixture. Add the milk. Slowly, whisking constantly, heat the milk through. Bring it to just at a boil for 30 seconds to a minute - whisk! whisk! - and remove from heat. Whisk some more. There should be a nice white sauce.

Pour sauce over vegetables cautiously. You don't want it to run out over the sides of the pastry. It'll be too messy to cook properly. Lay the second pastry on top, crimp the sides down with a fork, and brush with melted butter.

Cover with aluminum foil and pop into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until pastry is cooked through.

Variations: You can really use almost any sauce with this, to give it a different flavor. Italian red sauce, Indian korma, French thyme. Not all sauces cook well inside a pastry, so you might want to think about that before you cook it. You might cook the pastry, and have the sauce for dipping. If you're doing Indian, you'll want to use a much milder cheese than these two listed. And if you're doing French, no cheese at all.

Consider adding mushrooms, watercress, legumes or lentils that have been well-drained, chopped asparagus, or artichoke hearts. You might substitute the potato for parsnips or turnip root. You could substitute the spinach for kale, broccoli rabe, or even cabbage. Whatever you have on hand will probably do.

Instead of making a pie-type pastry, you can also spread the ingredients across each sheet of pastry and then roll it up. In that case, I would find a way to hold it together with toothpicks while it cooks in the oven. But you could also put it in a pie or casserole pan and cook it open faced. In that case, though, I'd wait until the last 10-15 minutes of baking to sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the top.


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