For generations, people around the world have known how to identify, harvest and cook the wild food around them. This spanakopita is one of the many ways to feed your family and friends while getting to know some of the most nutritious and resilient plants around.
This dish lends itself to a good degree of flexibility depending on what is growing in your garden.
This variation of spanakopita was made with young calendula seedlings, a handful of mallow and a cup or two of fresh nettles. Dandelion leaves and flowers as well as clover flowers are also featured.
The young leaves of wild brassica and a juicy-looking sow thistle were also thrown into the mix. To this, I added a bunch of kale, but this can be substituted with silver beet or spinach depending on seasonality and availability.
- 1 bunch chopped spinach, silver beet or kale
- 4-6 handfuls of assorted edible weeds found in the garden*
- 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 200g feta cheese, crumbled
- 200g ricotta cheese
- 1 generous handful of finely chopped fresh herbs such as dill, thyme, mint, oregano – or a mix of any herbs you have growing in your garden
- sprinkling of sesame seeds
- 4-6 sheets of filo pastry**
- 100g melted butter
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Wash spinach, silver beet or kale thoroughly or drain well if frozen, squeezing out excess liquid by hand.
- In a frying pan, gently cook onions and garlic until soft and aromatic in approximately 3Tbs of olive oil. Add all the greens and sauté until wilted. Allow too cool slightly.
- In a mixing bowl, add the cooked greens and the remaining filling ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Unroll filo sheets and place them between two damp kitchen cloths to prevent drying out.
- Brush bottom and sides of a baking dish with olive oil.
- Line baking dish with two sheets of pastry, allowing them to fall over the sides of the dish if necessary. Brush with melted butter.
- Spread filling over the bottom layer of the pastry. Top with two more sheets, and brush with butter.
- Fold the excess pastry from the sides back into the dish; scrunch and crimp for effect if you wish.
- Brush folded sides well with olive oil or remainder of the melted butter.
- Scatter sesame seeds across the top of your pie.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes to an hour, or until pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven.
- Cut your pie into squares and serve with a Greek salad and a bowl of warmed herby olives from your tree if you are lucky enough to have them!
Warning: Take the time to learn about your weeds. If in doubt, leave it out. Some edible weeds can be easily confused with more toxic plants.
* nettles, calendula, dandelion leaves, mallow and young sow thistle are particular favourites, but small amounts of finely chopped clover leaves and flowers, chickweed and plantain leaves will also work nicely in moderate amounts (plantain can taste a bit grassy in my opinion). Handy tip: If you enjoy the taste of your greens at this point and could eat them as you would a stir-fry, they are ready to be incorporated into your spanakopita.
** sometimes I alternate filling and pastry. When I want a quick pie, I am happy with a base layer of pastry, a generous amount of filling and then a layer of pastry to cover.