Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I had leftover phyllo dough recently and figured I'd make spanakopita with it. I wanted, however, to make something a little more innovative than the traditional spinach pie. More to the point, we were out of spinach. We did have some beautiful purple broccoli from the farmers' market, so I figured I'd use that. The result -- "broccopita" for short -- is now going to become my default.

First, I made some ricotta by heating up a cup of whole milk to just under boiling, then adding a spoonful of vinegar and returning it to the near-boil. You can do this in the microwave and it makes ricotta that is tastier and cheaper than store-bought. Just drain it in a sieve or cheesecloth before use.

While that was going on, I steamed the broccoli -- two good-sized heads -- and sauteed an onion and three nice fat cloves of garlic in olive oil. I mixed the vegetables together in a bowl, shredding the broccoli into tiny florets, and grated a bunch of pecorino over the top. (Real parmesan would also work well here, though it would change the flavor palette. Substituting broccoli for spinach and pecorino for feta gives you more of an Italian dish than a Greek one, which is fine by me.)

After that, I added the ricotta, tossed to combine everything, and corrected the seasoning. Many spanakopita recipes include an egg for binding, but my ricotta was semi-liquid and bound everything nicely on its own.

I lined an eight-inch springform pan with the half-pack of phyllo dough, brushing the sheets with olive oil where possible, and spread the filling in the middle. I made a pie around the filling with the phyllo and sealed the top with olive oil and a dab of butter. Then I popped the pie in a medium-hot oven and cooked until it was an attractive golden brown. Tasty!