What to do with 25 gallons of Spinach

Yesterday, my fellow farmer Kelly and I cleared out all the usable spinach from the gardens.  It’s my usual spring project to turn that spinach into those tasty spinach and cheese phyllo dough triangles called spanakopita, but I’ve never worked with twenty-five gallons of spinach before.  It was good to have help!

spanakopita 1The most intensive part of the project was the washing and chopping–the spinach and also the blend of herbs and alliums (green garlic, a few young leeks, shallots, and onions). The herbs blend also contained the last of the greens from the white spring turnips, and an unidentified Asian green from the bok choy/broccoli raab row we christened “Rob Choy” (and then chopped into bits).

The herb mix was composed of dill, cilantro, sylvetta arugula, apple mint, tarragon, and parsley–whatever was available in the gardens. I’ve done it with all different mixes of herbs, and I’ve never had a batch that wasn’t tasty.

alliums and herbs

alliums and herbs

Once the flavor additions were washed and chopped and the spinach came under our knives, I started sautéeing the spinach–a splash of olive oil, and sprinkling of alliums and herbs, and a whole lotta spinach–stir ’til wilted, dump in bowl, repeat. It was late afternoon by the time we got through it all, and it’s amazing how much 25 gallons of greens cooks down:

spanakopita 3Once the greens were cooked, we started adding the binder: 16 local eggs and a couple pounds of Susan’s homemade chevre (made with local goat’s milk). We made the first batch this way, and used up almost two full packages of Fillo Factory organic phyllo pastry.  It was good–but it needed more cheese.

spanakopita 4We added a bit of Dimock smoked cheddar and cheddar bleu, and then Susan came, sampled our first batch, and dropped off a couple more pounds of goat cheese.  As you can see, the mix gets a little soupy from the salt in the cheese (plus that which we added). We set up a strainer to deal with that.

In case you’re wondering, two packages of phyllo is nowhere near enough for a project of this magnitude–Kelly went out and picked up four more packages plus some more olive oil to go along with the 1 3/4 pounds of butter we went through.

spanakopita 5We found the Fillo Factory organic phyllo much nicer to work with than the regular Athenos brand most stores around here carry.  But, we had to switch to the Athenos because we bought Jones’ out of their organic phyllo. The “flag fold” of the triangles took us a few batches to perfect as well–some of those first ones came out more like squares or blobs. But they tasted great!

spanakopita 6We weren’t cooking them too dark, as most of them are destined for our freezers to be heated up for a quick lunch or dinner throughout the season.  Altogether, I lost track of the number of bags in my freezer (Kelly took some home last night, and Susan our cheese supplier will also get a good amount).

But, we did count when the last batch went in the oven–altogether (and we counted the ones we ate and the three on the tray that went flying went H came singing and gesturing into the kitchen) we made 144 pastries–a gross of spanikopita.

The last pastry got its own pan since it wouldn’t fit with the batch before–it also got the most liberal brushing of butter and oil from the little left in the pan. We only had enough spinach mix left over for maybe two more triangles, and we used up all six packages of phyllo.

Last One!

Last One!

I ate this one for breakfast while writing this post!

I would certainly not recommend this project as a solo undertaking–at least not with the quantity of greens we were working with–though I have done it alone with a much smaller quantity.  It’s certainly a great way to use up spinach that is starting to bolt in the field, and it makes a fantastic quick lunch–throw a couple triangles in the oven at 400 and 15 minutes later they’re ready to chow down!


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