This recipe combines tender Swiss chard leaves with spinach and locally made feta cheese for a tasty take on the Greek spanikopitta phyllo pies. The goat’s milk and sheep’s milk feta cheeses offered by cheese makers at farmer’s markets are usually a much higher quality than the salty, mass-produced fetas sold in grocery stores. I use the mild, creamy goat’s milk feta from Alsea Acres, available at Portland-area farmer’s markets and online (see Resources). Use the best feta you can find.
For the phyllo pockets:
1/3 cup white rice
2/3 cup cold water, plus additional as needed
1 bunch (1 pound) fresh spinach
2 bunches (2 pounds) Swiss chard, washed well and dried
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 leek cut lengthwise, white and light green parts sliced into thin rings
1 teaspoon minced garlic
7 ounces (about 1.5 cups) feta cheese
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound phyllo dough, thawed
1/3 cup butter, melted, plus additional for brushing
For the yogurt dip:
2 cups plain full-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the rice and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Pour the rice into a large bowl and refrigerate until cool.
Cut off the stems from the spinach and discard. Place the leaves in a large bowl of cold water and swirl; the grit will sink to the bottom. Scoop out the leaves, change the water, and repeat. Scoop the leaves into a salad spinner or colander and dry well.
Separate the tough chard stalks from the leaves, finely chop the stalks, and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chard stalks and leek; cook until the leek has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the chard leaves, and toss with tongs to coat the leaves with oil. Cook for 3 minutes; add the spinach one handful at a time until all the leaves are added.
Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh sieve or colander and press with a spatula to extract as much moisture as possible. Mix the greens with the rice and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Stir in the feta, dill, Parmesan, nutmeg, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stack 2 sheets of phyllo dough on a cutting board with the long side facing you. Cover the remaining dough with a clean dish towel to keep it from drying out.
Combine the butter and remaining oil in a measuring cup. Pick up the right half of the top phyllo sheet, as if turning the page of a book. Lightly brush the bottom sheet with the butter-oil mixture, lower the top sheet onto the buttered sheet, and press to seal the right side of the sheets together. Repeat with the left side. Cut the dough into four 31/2-inch-wide vertical strips.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the bottom left corner of one strip. Fold the bottom edge upward, lining it up with the edge on the right side to make a triangular pocket. Fold the pocket upward, then to the left and so on as if folding a flag. Repeat with the remaining strips.
Place the pockets on a cookie sheet and brush lightly with butter. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. (The pockets may be prepared ahead at this point and frozen on cookie sheets until solid. Transfer to a sealable plastic bag and use within 3 months. To bake, defrost the pockets at room temperature for 1 hour and bake as directed.) Bake the pockets until they are golden brown, 40 minutes.
To make the dip, whisk the yogurt, dill, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside the hot phyllo pockets.
Recipe and photo reprinted with Permission from The Farm to Table Cookbook (Sasquatch Books)