Dave is not so interested in food. Before we moved in together, his dinners varied between frozen pizza, microwave popcorn, and whatever leftovers I forced on him. I can’t get it through my head that he just doesn’t care, so I keep asking him for ideas when I plan our meals. When he can think of anything at all to suggest, it’s salmon pesto pasta. But this week he requested an ingredient instead of a dish, which is perfect, because he gets food he’ll enjoy, and I get to be creative with our meal planning.
The ingredient he suggested was pine nuts. (If he can’t have salmon pesto pasta, he’ll just request the ingredients in salmon pesto pasta.) I found a recipe for a Spinach Feta Pine Nut Tart on epicurious that sounded really interesting.
Wow, it was better than interesting. It was fantastic. The flavors melded together perfectly, with none bullying the others to be the star. The phyllo was flaky, the pine nuts were crunchy, and the eggs and spinach were creamy.
Although I only slightly strayed from the original recipe’s ingredients, I adjusted the cooking method substantially. It called for one onion to be sautéed in 1/3 cup of olive oil. I couldn’t see any reason for that much oil, so I used about a tablespoon. I cooked my own fresh spinach, because frozen spinach is always so stemmy. And I made the whole thing on a baking sheet instead of the rectangular tart pan that the original recipe called for.
Making the tart was far easier than I was expecting. The filling was relatively simple to prepare, even with cooking my own spinach. This was my first time working with phyllo, and I found it a bit of a hassle, with the dampened towels and the brushing melted butter, but not exceptionally so.
Overall, I was very pleased with this meal. The only problem I had with it is that I wanted more. Don’t let the original recipe fool you into thinking this is six servings – four is a more reasonable estimation.
Spinach Feta Pine Nut Tart (adapted from epicurious)
Serves 4 as a main course
Filling may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring filling to room temperature before proceeding.
½ cup pine nuts (about 3 ounces)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup crumbled feta (about 3 ounces)
seven 17- by 12-inch phyllo sheets
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons plus ¼ cup (1¼ ounce) freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wet spinach leaves and place in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until spinach wilts, 2-3 minutes. Wring dry and roughly chop.
Toast pine nuts in small skillet over medium heat.
In the same 12-inch skillet used for the spinach, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs until combined and stir in spinach, onions, pine nuts, salt and feta until combined well.
Stack phyllo sheets and cover with 2 overlapping sheets plastic wrap and then a dampened kitchen towel. In a small saucepan melt butter and cool slightly. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
On a work surface lightly brush 1 phyllo sheet with butter. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan evenly over buttered phyllo and repeat layering with 5 more phyllo sheets, butter, and 5 tablespoons Parmesan. Arrange last phyllo sheet on stack and lightly brush with butter. Spoon filling onto phyllo, spreading evenly and leaving outer 1½ inches free of filling. Fold edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered, and lightly brush top of phyllo with butter. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Parmesan over exposed filling and bake tart in middle of oven until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.