Thursday, 16 February 2012

Torta d'Ispirazione Greca Biete e Feta - Spring Green and Feta Cake

It is a cold and dreary winter evening. Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are sitting in the regal lounge of their winter residence. They are looking at the roaring fire, doing nothing, each holding a cat in their arms. Why? Only they know. Suddenly, however, Divine Cherry looks away and stares out of the window. Condensation has formed strange patterns on the ancient glass. One could read the history of the world in those patterns, and it would be just as accurate and correct as a reading of the future from tealeaves left in a cup. Divine Cherry (or DC to her friends) turns to Celestial Dragon (or CD to his play-us-something-friends) and, without speaking, communicates to him that she wants warmth. Celestial Dragon, ever alert, jumps up, shakes off the cat (much to Small Perfect Cloud's satisfaction) and approaches the fireplace. There he plunges one claw into the blazing flames and extracts a burning log. He walks back to Divine Cherry. Holding the hard, flaming wood before him, he blows on it. The glowing ashes spread across the entire room, painting everything in grey darkness. Divine Cherry closes her eyes, slightly worried as to what is going to happen next.
When she opens them again, she is sitting at a white-clothed table. Surveying her surroundings, she realises that they're now in a tavern somewhere in Greece. The sun is sinking behind the horizon, there, above the sea, over yonder hill. In front of her is a glass filled with delicious retsina, and the table is decked with one of her favourite dishes. The other side of the table, facing her, Celestial Dragon smiles. "You wanted warmth", he says.

Spring Green and Feta Cake

- 500 g spring greens
- 250 g feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 large egg or 2 medium
- 2 table spoons milk
- 100 g melted butter
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- half an onion, finely chopped
- 1 packet of phillo pastry (6 sheets in mine)
- 50 g of butter or half a glass of olive oil for brushing
- black seeds to decorate

Preheat the oven at 180 C. Cut in thin stripes the spring greens and steam them (or cook in a no-stick pan with salt and a little olive oil) until just tender. Squeeze the vegetables to release the excess of liquid and put them in a large bowl. Add the feta, onion, spring onions, melted butter, milk, the egg. Season with salt and  pepper and stir all the ingredients until well combined. Grease a baking tray with olive oil or butter, lie down the first phillo sheet, brush with some oil or butter, cover with the second sheet and brush again. Go on like that until you use half the phillo pastry sheets you have. Pour the filling mixture and cover with the remaining phillo sheets, brushing each one with butter. Brush the last sheet with butter and scatter some black seeds on top. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Notes: - Phillo pastry tends to dry out quickly, so open the paket at the very last moment. If some sheets break, it is not a big deal, you can use anyway the pieces of sheets.
- Usally this cake is made with spinach and it is known as Spanakopita in Greece, but is common also in Turkey.

Torta Greca di Feta e Biete
- 500 g biete
- 250 g feta
- 1 uovo grande o 2 medio-piccoli
- 2 cucchiai di latte
- 100 g burro fuso
- 4 cipollotti giovani e piccoli, tritati finemente
- mezza cipolla tritata finemente
- una confezione da 270 g di pasta phillo (la mia conteneva sei fogli di pasta)
- 50g burro fuso o mezzo bicchiere di olio di oliva per spennallare i fogli di pasta phillo
- semi neri di basilico per decorare (ma anche semi di sesamo o senza semini del tutto se non li avete)

Tagliare a striscioline le biete e farle appassire in padella con un filo d'olio per far perdere loro la maggior parte dell'acqua. Non stracuocerle, quando sono pronte, strizzarle e metterle in una ciotola capiente. Aggiungere alle biete la feta sbriciolata, la cipolla e i cipollotti tritati, 2 cucchiai di latte, il burro fuso e un uovo grande precedentemente sbattuto in una ciotolina. Salare e pepare e mescolare bene tutti gli ingredienti.
Imburrare una teglia da forno, adagiare il primo foglio di pasta phillo, spennellarlo bene con burro fuso o olio evo, adagiare sopra il secondo foglio e spennellare di nuovo, procedere cosi' fino ad usare meta' dei fogli di pasta che avete a disposizione. Disporre uniformemente il ripieno di biete, coprire con l'altra meta' di fogli di pasta che vi rimangono, adagiandoli uno alla volta e spennellando ciascuno con l'olio. Oliare anche l'ultimo foglio, spargere qualche semino nero e infornare in forno gia' caldo a 180 C per 40 minuti circa.

Note: La pasta fillo secca velocemente, quindi aprite la confezione solo all'ultimo minuto. Se qualche foglio si dovesse rompre, non e' grave: metteli a pezzetti comunque e spennellate sempre abbondantemente con l'olio.
- Se sotituite gli spinaci alle biete avrete la tradizionale Spanakopita greca.


  1. What a wonderful story! And love this recipe, but do you have certain spring greens that you recommend using?

    1. Hi Pennie! Spring greens are quite common in UK. They are a kind of cabbage with large leaves, similar to kale, i do not know if you can find it in US, or if they are known with a different name over there! In case you cannot find them, you can use spinach for this recipe. here you can see them:

  2. What a recipe!! Very inspiring recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  3. this sounds delicious! thanks for sharing!

  4. Great idea! I love anything with feta cheese in!