Just because I avoid grains (especially gluten containing ones like wheat) doesn't mean that I have to give up all of my old favourite dishes that traditionally call for grains, like pastry-encased spanakopita. I just make, well, certain adjustments to recipes so that they are gluten-free, processed-food free and more nutrient-dense.
For example, I activate buckwheat (which is technically a fruit and not a grain) and process it into flour when making cakes and muffins and when crumbing meat. Lately I had a real hankering for spanakopita - the moist flavoursome pie that I grew up on in my Greek-Cypriot household. Many years ago, when I used to eat more grains (I was once a macrobiotic vegetarian), I used to painstakingly slave all day making the sourdough pastry from scratch that encased the pie filling.
Properly preparing grains (soaking, sprouting or leavening) is a time consuming process for little reward compared to the time and energy invested- all that effort to make a food (i.e. pastry) that is not particularly nutrient-dense and probably causes more harm to your gut than good. I then started focusing my energy and time on more nutrient-dense foods where I got more nutritional bang for my buck- organ meats, lacto-fermented foods, bone broths, casseroles of pastured meats etc. And I haven't looked back. My health and energy levels soared, my medical bills dropped to almost zero and my children stopped getting sick. This is just part of my journey with food and nutrition. And the journey has been long and arduous at times. Today I find cooking in line with my grain-free nutrient-dense wholefoods philosophy very simple, enjoyable and effortless after many years of practice and refinement. This way of eating doesn't call for much time in the kitchen (what a relief!).
So the long and the short of it is that when I walked into BU Organics last week and saw some luscious bunches of bright green silverbeet, I decided I just had to make a spanakopita after many years of abstinence with just the filling (which in my view is the most delicious -and nutritious- part of a traditional spinach pie anyway). A crustless version is unsurprisingly super quick and easy to prepare. And it was a real winner with my kids - helping themselves to a second serve is a good sign! It makes for a lovely alternative to steamed greens or salad when serving meat. Leftovers can be eaten cold (eg school/work lunches) or reheated in the oven. I reheated the last remaining piece for breakfast the following day.
- 1 bunch silverbeet or English spinach (or combination of the 2)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 250g cheese (e.g. chopped feta, grated Reggio, grated gruyere, goats curd, quark or any combination of cheeses. I used 50/50 home made cream quark and Reggio)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon unrefined salt
- Cracked pepper
Cut stalks from silverbeet leaves. Roughly cut silverbeet leaves and finely cut the stalks. Steam leaves and stalks until soft (should only take a few minutes). Add to large bowl.
Melt butter in large frying pan on low heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown (about 5-10 mins), stirring occasionally. Add to bowl with silverbeet. Add parsley, beaten eggs, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Mix together to combine all ingredients.
Grease a baking dish with butter and spoon in mixture.
Cook uncovered at 150 degrees Celsius for 60 minutes or until mixture is set and not runny.
Time poor variation: instead of sautéing onions, steam them with silverbeet leaves and add to bowl with 2 tablespoons butter. You can also cook the greens and onions several hours in advance (eg in the morning) and keep them in the fridge in a bowl until you are ready to add remaining ingredients and cook the pie (eg in the evening). This is what I did. As a time poor mum, a meal is sometimes made in a couple of tranches!
Kali Orexi (that's Greek for Good Appetite!)