This dish from Maria, which she sent to us last year, continues to be a favorite in the Sunday International Buffet at the Hotel.
For last Sunday’s international buffet at the Hotel Lac Tanganyika, Chef Richard decided to use a recipe that Maria sent to us, using the organic English spinach from our contract farming gardens in the village.
We can get filo leaves in Bujumbura, but they are terribly expensive because they are flown in, and so Richard decided to use cannelloni shells instead of filo, and bake the stuffed shells in a spicy tomato sauce! It worked brilliantly!
Here is the original recipe and following that, how Richard changed it for our conditions here:
Maria’s Spanakopita spiral for Lent
3 thick filo pastry sheets, cut into halves (ie six sheets in all) for a 36cm round tin (but you can substitute thin filo pastry for thick – you will then need six sheets, and you will leave them intact – they will be folded in half instead)
a large bunch of spinach, chopped finely
a large bunch of silverbeet, chopped finely
1 large onion, chopped finely
a few sprigs of herbs that you have handy: I added parsley, mint and fennel, all finely chopped, as well as dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs (to soak up any excess moisture)
For this pie to be successful, you need to make sure that all the greens are clean (no grit) and DRY. The less water retained in the cleaned and washed greens, the less likely the ingredients will spill out of the pastry which will break open (if it’s too damp) while cooking. This is why I added breadcrumbs to the finely chopped greens – to soak up any excess moisture. You can also substitute semolina for breadcrumbs; it depends on what you have handy. The olive oil is added to the greens to keep them compact. The greens will not wilt and cook properly if they are too dry.
Mix all the ingredients together. Form long sausages (or snakes) with the rectangle pastry sheets. Place them in rounds in the tin. I started my spiral from the rim; Peter started his cheesy striftopita from the centre. Form the strips into a continuous spiral. When all the twists have been laid, brush them with oil (for a completely vegan lenten version) or butter or egg (if you can’t fathom the idea that there is no cheese in the pie – I brushed it with egg, more out of habit; I simply broke the egg into a bowl, and before I realised that this was supposed to be a Lenten pie, the bowl of egg was finished). Cook the pie for forty minutes at moderate heat, till the pie crust is golden brown.
When you are ready to serve the pie, cut it lengthwise into quarters, and then cut the pieces in half again. The pie is meant to be eaten in spiral bits, rather than as a piece, otherwise it may fall to pieces …
The greens mixture that Richard made, below, included only the English spinach, which was fine. However, there was too much liquid; no breadcrumbs were added – as Maria says, that is important!
To increase the chili taste that folks like here, a little red pepper was added to the veggie mixture, and Richard placed the cannelloni on a thin bed of spicy tomato sauce for baking, covered with a bit of grated cheese.
Here is the dish arriving at the buffet:
Richard and I both say, thanks – Maria – for another wonderful recipe!
Here is the full buffet menu (I`ve removed most of the French):
STARTERS SWEET POTATO SOUP EXOTIC AVOCADO SALAD RUSSIAN EGG SALAD COLESLAW SALAD ORGANIC ARMENIAN CUCUMBERS FROM OUR GARDEN
PLAT FROID / COLD PLATTER ROAST CHICKEN AND CHICKEN TERRAINE WITH ITALIAN PICKLES
MAIN DISHES ENGLISH STYLE BEEF TONGUE BRAISED BEEF WITH VEGETABLE BROWN SAUCE SWEET AND SOUR PORK CHICKEN BAKED WITH ROSEMARY RABBIT STEW COOKED WITH ROSEMARY FROM THE CARVING TABLE GOAT GRILLED TEXAS-STYLE WHOLE CAPTAIN FISH BAKED IN A SALT CRUST
SIDE DISHES MELANZANA ALLA PARMIGIANA – BAKED EGGPLANT WITH CHEESE MARIA’S SPANAKOPITA CANNELLONI – STUFFED WITH ORGANIC ENGLISH SPINACH FROM OUR GARDENS MASHED POTATOES BAKED WITH CHEESE DEEP FRIED PLANTAIN BANANAS RISIBISI RICE WITH PEAS SAUTEED MIXED LEGUMES
DESSERTS ORGANIC CANNELOPE FROM OUR GARDENS VARIOUS HOUSE DESSERTS FRESH FRUITS IN SEASON
- Spinach and Feta Pie (whatweatetoday.co.uk)
- Tomato-Spinach Pasta Bake (frshforce.wordpress.com)
- How I make Spanakopita (irinisavva.wordpress.com)
- Mackerel served two ways (independent.co.uk)