Saturday, 5 May 2012

Spinach and Feta Pastitsio

The sun is shining, so I have the washing machine on and some clothes already hung out to dry.  I want to make the most of the unexpected dry spell.  In a little while, I am planning to transplant my rescued broad beans and peas into the ground.  The tomato seedlings will be up-potted and more seeds sowed.  I am definitely behind on the gardening and growing front this year.  I just better make the most of what I have and what we can do. 

I made this Greek inspired Pastitsio before, in fact it was almost a year ago.  The one main difference with this one is the pasta I've used.  Normally I would use penne, but I didn't have any so substituted it with mafalda corta, a ruffle shape found typical in the Campania region of Naples, Italy.  It worked pretty well and tasted pretty good too.  

This dish reheats well in the oven, so it should last us a good few days, unless of course we have some unexpected guests come on over and then, of course they would be most welcome to some, if they so wish. 
I am sharing this at Presto Pasta Nights (PPN). PPN was founded by Ruth Daniels of Once Upon a Feast and each Friday night a different host posts a roundup of pasta dishes submitted by bloggers from around the world. This week PPN #263 is being hosted by Emma of Emma's Kitchen Diary.  I am also sharing it with Family Friendly Fridays.    May's edition of Family Friendly Fridays  is being hosted by Clare over at The Vegetarian Experience on behalf of Ren over at Fabulicious Food .

Spinach and Feta Pastitsio
Serves 6 – 8
Ingredients
For the rich tomato sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes with juice, chopped
4 teaspoon sun dried tomato paste
1 generous teaspoon of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
For the filling

225g dried pasta

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
450g – 500g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled
For the creamy sauce
100g feta cheese, crumbled

4 egg yolks
200g fromage frais150g crème fraiche

Method
For the rich tomato base

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and break them up, together with sun dried tomato paste and oregano. Simmer uncovered over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce it thick and pulpy. Discard the oregano sprigs and season to taste.
For the base

Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain thoroughly, then toss with a little oil to prevent it from sticking and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and fry for 5 minutes, then add the spinach to the pan and cook until it wilts.
Add the sauce and feta to the pan, along with the pasta and mix well.
Spoon into a lightly oiled deep baking dish.
For the creamy sauce
Put the egg yolks, fromage frais, crème fraiche and feta into a food processor and process briefly until smooth; Or mash and blend in a bowl with a fork. Season to taste.
Pour the cream mixture evenly over the pasta mixture.

Bake in the oven gas mark 5 for 30 – 40 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving, accompanied by a crisp salad. 

27 comments:

  1. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Has me heading out to pick up some spinach and plan on making my own creme fraiche - easier than you think and much cheaper over here in Canada.

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

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    1. I know I should make my own creme fraiche. I will one of these days.

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  2. Like the look of that, definatly have to give it a try.

    Have a good weekend. Hope you get some gardening done.

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  3. Hi shaheen this looks delicious as usual. Just wondering where in the country you are based with planting out your beans, I'm still too concerned about predicted frosts to plant out yet (north staffordshire/south Cheshire area) xxx

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    1. Hi I live in South West Wales. I am forced to plant out early as I no longer have a greenhouse. See here.
      http://allotment2kitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/disappearing-greenhouse.html
      Also the windowsills in the house are full, so have no choice really. Fingers crossed they will be fine.

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  4. Wow- this looks absolutely delicious. The combination of spinach and feta sounds lovely. Thanks so much for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Emma. Its nice to make your acquiantance through PPN.

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  5. This is very tasty. Excellent dish. I am really tempted...

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  6. Wow... It looks so yummy! And its vegetarian too. Now thats my kind of food.

    Thanks for sharing Shaheen. I will be trying this soon.

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    Replies
    1. Sri - most of my recipes are suitable for vegetarians and some for vegans.

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  7. That looks amazing and I know everyone would love it. I am definitely making this one. I am going to bookmark it now. Just look at it, it is amazing!

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    1. Hope you do Jacqueline. Its pretty good.

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  8. wow...
    this sounds delicious and something I am definately going to attempt...
    thank you!

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  9. This looks wonderful! With a vegetarian daughter I am always looking for things to make that we can all enjoy - also we should have our own spinach soon (had loads last year) so new ways to use spinach are always welcome too!
    Thanks for sharing, it must take ages to prepare the post, but it does look good!
    Thank you so much for your birthday wishes on my FB page - so kind!
    Gill xx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Gilly. There is lots of local spinach and swiss chard being sold at the grocers, so I'll def. be getting some more soon.

      Yes, it does take a while to prep a post, esp. one with long recipe. Your so welcome on the B'day wishes, it was my pleasure to wish you a good day :)

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  10. That looks amazing...my whole family would love it too.

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  11. Hello!
    I adore pasta dishes, thankyou so much for this recipe...
    soon as I restock on feta I will try this

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  12. My vegetarians will love this! It goes on the list for May........hope your garden is making a comeback.

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    Replies
    1. Well the peas and broad beans are out in the cold, hope they make it through the week, predicted lots of rain.

      Hope your veggie guests enjoy the dish.

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  13. Mmmmmm.... that looks absolutely delicious!

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  14. Love spinach and cheese together and this looks yummy! Glad the rain has stopped.

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  15. Rain has stopped only for a little while :)

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  16. Oh I can’t believe I nearly missed this post! Really delicious looking dish-as always Shaheen!! It just ticks all the boxes as I feel like having some pasta, feta cheese and tomato. Added bonus-I have an excuse to hunt out a new shape of pasta to try...

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    1. Oh I am so pleased this ticks all the culinary boxes for you, I thought readers would find this dish messy looking, but most have found it homely and appealing, which of course made me smile. Hope you find the pasta, I no longer have the packet, but think I got it from a supermarket chain beginning with T.

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  17. Hi Shaheen

    This looks really delicious! I love Feta and spinach.. what a great combination! Thanks so much for entering Family Friendly Fridays this month!

    Clare x

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    1. Thank you Clare. its a real pleasure.

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