Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Spanakopita with Tzatziki

I do not remember the first time I tried spanakopita, Greek spinach and feta cheese pie. It had to have been sometime when I was in college or just after. I know by the early to mid 1990’s, I was making my own spanakopita with homemade tzatziki. I do remember where I had tzatziki the first time. I had tzatziki on a gyro at a gyro shop in the Centerpoint Mall in Oxnard, California called It’s Greek to Me. When I moved to Oregon, I found similar places in various shopping centers. Tzatziki is a cucumber, yogurt, dill, and garlic sauce used as a standard condiment in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.  

Spanakopita, like mentioned earlier, is a Greek spinach and feta cheese pie. It can be made several ways. It can be made like lasagna layered in a large baking pan. It can be an individual hand roll like a burrito or egg roll. It finally can be made individually in a triangle shape like a turnover. In the early nineties I was using the Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors cookbook, but it was missing Greek, Italian, and Chinese cuisines. I found out Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, did a cookbook that included those three cuisines. It was called the Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome. I bought that with the intent to add those cuisines to my culinary repertoire. However it turns out I only made the Greek dishes.

The two dishes I made most from that cookbook were spanakopita and tzatziki. When I made the spanakopita I made them in the triangular turnover shape. I made it at least two or three times before I had my hiatus in cooking. When I came back to cooking for myself I started to make tzatziki on a regular basis. I ate it with pita bread or vegetables. In November or December I used my Veggetti device, it turns vegetables into noodle shapes, to make a salad inspired by tzatziki. The salad was cucumber noodles with a sauce of yogurt, garlic, dill, and olive oil. By October, I slowed down making tzatziki.

On September 9, 2015 I made spanakopita after over a decade. Unlike before, I used olive oil instead of butter. The darker parts tasted almost burnt. Other than that it was very tasty. I have yet to try again. The oven I am using runs a little hot. I may need to lower the oven rack.

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