A food writer without an oven is like a beauty queen without a pageant. A filmmaker without a screen. A politician without an election: You can lay the most spectacular groundwork, but with no way to finish, it’s all for naught.
Welcome to my life.
Halfway through my second batch of these babies, after the oven had preheated and I’d slid them in, something went downhill, fast. When my timer went off, I used a potholdered hand to retrieve what I thought would be hot-hot-hot, golden-browned domes of spinach-y, feta-y goodness. What I found: wan, beige, par-baked blobs in an oven that was now barely warm. Our building’s handyman came the same day and found no explanation for the sudden demise (the burners and the oven’s ignitor both work just fine), so now I wait. The landlady is replacing the unit, hopefully within the next week or so. Until then, expect a lot of stovetop and slow-cooker recipes!
Lucky for me I have a toaster oven—at least I was able to finish baking the interrupted batch. Though they came out far from perfect-looking (the tops were too close to the heating element, so the sprinkled cheese practically carbonized), the taste was all there: spanakopita (aka Greek spinach pie), wrapped in pizza dough to make individual, hand-held servings. Since spanakopita can be served either hot or room temp, these are pretty fab for brown-bagging.
Oh, and this recipe has a Picky Eater Bonus: Because you’re making individual servings, you can customize. Instead of spanakopita, Harry ate a Mini Deep-Dish Pizza stuffed with jarred tapenade, Little Gram’s Sauce, and mozzarella.
Muffin Tin Spanakopitza
1/4 cup olive oil
1 prepared pizza dough, white or whole wheat (I use this)
Two 10-ounce packages (or one 1-pound bag) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
4 ounces crumbled feta, about 1 cup (use more if you really love cheese)
4 scallions, greens only, chopped fine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
Generous pinch nutmeg
Salt & pepper
Flour, for dusting
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil in each cup. Bring the dough to room temperature.
- Squeeze the defrosted spinach to remove as much water as possible—too much liquid will make for soggy insides. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and add the feta, scallions, dill, nutmeg, and salt & pepper. Stir to combine.
- Dust a clean workspace with flour, and lay the dough on top. Cut into 12 roughly equal pieces—I find this easiest to do with a pizza cutter. Cover the dough with plastic wrap while you do the following, one at a time:
- Gently pull and stretch one piece of dough into a rough circle, approximately 4” in diameter. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect! Put a generous 2 tablespoons of filling in the center (go ahead and use more than you think you should—the spinach loses volume in the oven). Pull the edges of the dough up and over, pinching together in the center, until you have something kinda like a ball. Roll it gently between your hands to make it more spherical, then deposit into a muffin cup, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Brush the tops with the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle each with about a teaspoon of Parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating—the insides will be quite hot!
MAKE BABY FOOD: The filling is ideal for pureeing—no need to cook it, even—with a splash of milk or broth. If your baby’s on finger foods, make sure the spinach is finely chopped before handing it over.