As a child, I was not a fan of spinach, or anything that contained it, and no amount of watching Popeye cartoons could make me change my mind. Thank goodness for adulthood.
I have since had a complete change of heart in my feelings about this wondrous green veggie. So much so that I even grow it in my garden. I can’t even remember why I didn’t like it in the first place. I guess we’ll simply have to chalk it up to “just because”.
I, like many Greeks (and non-Greeks, too), love the combination of flavor that comes from a traditional Greek spanakopita. This is a “pie” that is a perfect flavor marriage of a buttery and flaky fillo dough stuffed with tangy feta, spinach, fresh herbs, and eggs. I’ve just made it into an actual pie this time. Or at least pretty close to one.
Galettes are a kind of “cheater’s pie”, if you will. Though you are still making a pie crust, there’s no fussing with transferring it to a pie dish, or worrying about getting properly crimped edges. They are used for both sweet and savory purposes, and work best for fillings that aren’t overly wet. In fact making a galette is really good practice for making pies for those of you that haven’t done so before! Woohoo! Two birds with one stone!
Some quick notes before you begin:
You will need to make the pastry dough for this. Most store bought pie dough comes preformed and may be too brittle to be used for this style. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered (of course)! Pie dough is not scary nor difficult, especially if you have a basic food processor. See my recipe here, and pay attention to the note below.
About that pie dough, my original recipe is for an all butter crust. For recipes like this, I like to substitute half of the butter with lard. Yes, lard. Butter crusts will shrink a bit due to the evaporating moisture from the butter. Lard doesn’t have that same moisture and so there will be less shrinkage of the dough and your galette will hold its shape better. The combination of butter and lard will then give the best of both worlds: flavor and texture. By the way, making your own lard or other rendered fats is ridiculously easy and uses up scraps you were probably already throwing out. See how here!
Traditional spanakopita does not use flour as a thickener. Instead the spinach is sauteed and the liquid is squeezed out, otherwise the filling will be super soggy. In this case, I use flour to simplify the process and accomplish the same thing, which is to reduce the amount of loose liquid in the filling. If your filling still seems very watery after adding the flour and continuing to cook the filling, you may want to consider adding another teaspoon. Don’t get crazy, you don’t want a pasty filling, either.
This recipe makes two galettes. Each served my family of four (that are still under one roof) as an all-in-one meal, for a total of two meals. Add a side salad or other side dish and you can stretch each galette to serve more people, or for more meals. They can be frozen before baking, but don’t thaw them first when it’s time to cook them. Keep the same oven temperature and leave it in the oven for a longer period of time until it’s done.
Spinach & Feta Galette Recipe
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 lb. sliced leeks, green and white parts
- 1 Tbsp. packed minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1 cup chopped dill, lightly packed
- 1 1/2 cups chopped parsley, lightly packed
- 1 lb. fresh spinach, rinsed and allowed to drain
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 1/2 lb. crumbled feta
- 1 egg, scrambled
- sesame seeds
- 1 recipe pie dough, with half the butter substituted with lard (all butter can be used, but this will give the best results)
Start by making the pie dough. While the dough is “resting” in the refrigerator, prepare the filling.
Put the oil in a large pan and set it on the stove turned to high until the oil starts to “shimmer”. Add the leeks, reduce the heat to medium, and saute until they are softened and brightly colored. This will be only a few minutes. Add the garlic and saute about 30 seconds more, or until the garlic is fragrant.
Add in the dill and parsley and stir to completely combine and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the spinach in stages so as not to overfill the pan all at once. Cover the pan for a few moments each time to let the steam begin to wilt the spinach, then uncover and gently stir it in. Continue to do this until all the spinach has been added and wilted. Be careful not to let the bottom scorch.
Add the lemon juice to the pan and completely mix in. Push the contents against the sides of the pan (see the picture above). This allows the liquid to move to the center where some of it can be cooked off and concentrate the flavor. Turn the heat to medium and allow the moisture to evaporate for a couple of minutes.
Stir the contents back together. Sprinkle the flour over the surface and thoroughly mix it in. Cook over medium heat for a few more minutes to give the flour a chance to thicken the liquid. If it still seems very watery after cooking, add another teaspoon of flour and cook a couple of minutes more. This filling should be loose, just not watery. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, uncovered.
Turn the oven to 400 F and remove the pie dough from the refrigerator. Divide the pie dough into two equal sized balls. Re-cover one and return it to the fridge. Roll out the other to a 12 inch diameter circle and then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If your baking sheet and/or oven can handle both galettes at once, then repeat with the other ball of dough. Otherwise you can do the second while the first one bakes.
Divide the filling in half and put into the center of the dough. Spread out to within two inches of the edge. Sprinkle half of the feta over the filling. Lift a section of the edge of the dough up and over the filling. Then lift the next section up and over. Repeat until the dough is folded over all around while leaving a wide hole in the center. Brush the top of the dough with the egg and then sprinkle sesame seeds all over the dough. Any leftover egg can be drizzled over the surface of the filling, if desired, or cooked for a quick bite!
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and firm, and the feta is lightly browned and the center has been baked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. This galette also tastes great at room temperature, too. Kali orexi (good appetite)!