Some people are just naturals when it comes to organizing and planning ahead. Me?.... not so much. But I'm really working on it, especially when it comes to the holidays, as I've learned some valuable lesson from years gone by.
I've actually spoiled some holidays by trying to do too much in too little time. Can anyone out there identify? The purpose and meaning of the special holidays along with the precious time with family and friends can be lost in the hustle, bustle of many last minute to-dos. I'm determined this year to start early, have fun with the preparation and then focus on and enjoy the things that really matter. And I'm hoping to help you do the same as I share recipes and tips in the weeks ahead.
One of your best friends and helpers at this time of the year needs to be your freezer. Go ahead, clean it out and organize it right now so that you can begin to fill it up with all kinds of delicious sweet and savory delights which will make your holidays so much less stressful.
I keep an extra refrigerator and freezer in my garage and they have definitely been workhorses over the years. When my son comes to visit he always checks out these "treasure chests" in the garage shortly after he arrives. In fact, he keeps such a good inventory that occasionally (when I'm feeling quite lazy) I call him to check if I have a certain item stashed away somewhere in the recesses of the garage freezer :)!
The delicious recipe I'm sharing today is one that will definitely freeze well; a fabulous spinach pie with ricotta and feta cheeses, chicken, a touch of lemon and garlic - all wrapped up in a crisp, buttery filo dough crust. It can either be frozen unbaked or it can be baked, then froze and just re-warmed before serving.
I have made this in a cast-iron skillet, to serve in wedges like a pie but it can also be prepared in small ramekins or other oven-safe serving containers as well. Fix a yummy salad, warm up some bread, either purchased or prepared ahead and frozen (yes, bread freezes very well) and you'll have fabulous dinner - even if you've worked all day!
P.S. I listened to myself and cleaned out my freezer today! Aren't you proud of me? Oh, and I have to confess; there were some things in there that were a little scary! Not only do I not know when I froze them, I couldn't even figure out what they were! It's your turn now!
Feta Filo Tart w/ Chicken and Spinach
16-ounce package filo dough, unthawed, you'll have some leftover - it can be wrapped and re-frozen
½ cup butter, melted
16-ounce container ricotta
2 large eggs, beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups feta, crumbled
4 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
zest of 1 lemon, finely zested
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ cups chicken breast, torn in bite-size pieces, I used a rotisserie chicken
½ cup roasted peppers, drained well and chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Place a sheet pan on the lower rack in your oven and preheat to 375˚F.
2. Unfold filo sheets on your counter and cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. (It dries out very quickly and if this happens it will be difficult to work with.) Remove 1 sheet at a time and brush with melted butter. Layer filo in an 8-9 inch greased, high-sided ovenproof sauté pan or cast-iron skillet allowing at least 5 inches of filo to overhang all around*.
3. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, garlic and Feta and freshly ground pepper. Taste and add salt, if need (usually the salt from the Feta cheese will be enough). Add the spinach, chicken, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and peppers and gently combine.
4. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the pan, then fold the pastry over the top, scrunching to seal. Brush 2 more sheets of filo with butter and tear into strips. Scrunch the strips and place decoratively over the top of the tar. Brush all over with a bit more melted butter.
5. Bake on the preheated sheet pan for 30-35 minutes until golden and set. Check after 20 minutes and cover with foil for the remainder of baking time if getting too brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving in slices.
*As an alternative use 4-6 individual ramekins or small oven-safe containers. Line each with 2 sheets of butter brushed film with several inches hanging over the sides. Fill each with ricotta mixture, then fold film over the top scrunching to seal. Brush another film sheet with butter and tear into strips. Scrunch the strips and place decoratively over the top - they will adhere to the other pieces as they bake. Brush all over with a bit more melted butter.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine