We buy either spinach or silver beet about twice each month. We also grow it at home from time to time, although we usually struggle to keep it out of the reach of marauding possums!
I have cooked with these green leaves for nearly 40 years, mainly in the form of a silver beet flan, ie with a shortcrust pastry but bulkier than a quiche; a spinach souffle, tricky to achieve but worth the effort; and as the feature ingredient in an omelette. In recent years, I have replaced the flan with, first, the Greek dish spanakopita and, then, another filo pie, with a filling of silver beet, ricotta, feta and eggs, but no onion.
Maggie is as keen to buy the greens as I am, but she has just one destiny in mind for each of them: spinach, to be wilted with some butter, then finished with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, seasoning and about 40ml of cooking cream; silver beet, to be trimmed, boiled in salted water, chopped and then tossed with some butter, say 20g for the average bunch. None of my other methods appeal to her all that much and, with no relatives-in-need close at hand to justify the effort and quantity, I have all but abandoned those dishes. Sigh!
Spinach was on the shopping list last week but the available bunches looked a bit ragged, so we came home with silver beet. By the following day, I had come up with a plan to entice Maggie to embrace a use for those leaves at variance with her preferred option.
Here is the end result of my ploy – puff pastry turnovers filled with a simplified version of my filo pie recipe and with the tempting texture of the puff pastry. We made them on Sunday afternoon and Maggie took two to work for lunch on Monday. Mission accomplished!
The recipe below specifies ‘one bunch of sliver beet’, which is not very specific at all! Hence the quantity ranges for the two cheeses. Two eggs should be sufficient in most cases – we don’t want to have the filling set firm like a cake.
1 bunch silver beet, stalks trimmed and leaves rinsed
75-100g good quality feta cheese, crumbled
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp dried oregano
2 to 3 sheets of puff pastry, just thawed
- Coarsely chop the silver beet and cook in simmering, salted water for 6 minutes. When cool, squeeze to remove excess liquid.
- Separate one of the eggs into white and yolk.
- Beat the whole egg and the extra yolk in a large mixing bowl, add the feta and mix well. Add the silver beet, ricotta, nutmeg and oregano and mix well. Adjust seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Line one or two baking trays with baking paper. (The recipe will produce enough filling for about 10 turnovers.)
- Whisk the extra egg white briefly.
- Cut each sheet of pastry into four squares.
- Divide the filling among the pastry squares. You can afford to be generous, as the filling will not expand unduly during the baking.
- Brush the edges of each square with the beaten egg white. Fold in half diagonally to enclose the filling. Pinch the edges to seal (Maggie uses a fork for this step).
- Place the turnovers on the prepared tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
To reheat any leftovers, I prefer to place them on a baking tray, put them into a cold oven and set the temperature to rise to about 150C. In about 12-15 minutes, this will reproduce a crisp pastry without cooking the filling any further. If you want to reheat them in a microwave oven, I suggest you cut each turnover in half beforehand, to let some steam escape and achieve even heating.