It’s well known that food can evoke memories of places.
Sampling local cuisine is a huge part of the experience of traveling, and we all have a couple of comfort food dishes that transport us back to a particular time and place.
During a recent delve through the cookbooks I stumbled across a recipe for spinach and feta pies, which took me back to a holiday in Skiathos, Greece, with two friends in 2006.
The budget was tight that year, so we stayed in a tiny apartment close to the town centre and the beach. We had a little balcony that could just about fit all three of us where we would drink glasses of the local red wine before heading to a restaurant or bar.
The balcony also overlooked a small bakery on the other side of the road that sold the best spinach and feta pies. They were delicious and affordable, so stopping at the bakery to pick up some cheap snacks quickly became a part of the morning routine as we headed down to the beach.
The spinach and feta pies in this recipe are not quite the same as the pies from the Skiathos bakery, but while international travel is still off limits, it’s close enough for now.
This recipe has been modified from the original version in East by West by Jasmine Hemsley. I also used a few mushrooms left over in the fridge for the filling, but they can be left out of the recipe.
For the filling
½ small leek, diced (or onion)
Handful of mushrooms, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
300g spinach leaves
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
75g feta cheese (try to use sheep and goat’s milk feta)
For the pastry
220g plain flour
½ tsp of salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g unsalted chilled butter
75ml cold water
Olive oil, for brushing
- Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl for the pastry. Grate in the butter and then rub it into the flour until it resembles fine crumbs. Pour in the water and keep mixing with your hands until it becomes a dough. Knead it for a few more minutes and then set aside at room temperature.
- Melt some olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Cook the leek for about five minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until it has wilted down. Remove the pan from the heat so that it can cool. It can be useful to transfer the contents into a sieve to remove the excess water from the spinach.
- Place in a bowl and add in the feta (either diced or crumbled), coriander and pepper. Stir together and then set aside in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a tray with baking paper.
- Cut the pastry into four pieces and dust a clean surface with flour. Roll the dough into flat discs.
- Grab the pastry filling from the fridge and divide it evenly across the four discs. The filling should be placed across half of each piece of pastry so that it can be folded over. Remember to leave a gap around the border so that the pastry can be sealed by pressing a fork along the edges.
- Place the pies onto the baking paper with enough space in between so that they don’t touch. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle on some salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, then bake for another 10 minutes. If the pies are not lightly browned on top, then bake for another five minutes.
- Once fully baked, leave to cool for a few minutes and enjoy them warm or let them cool completely.
What do you think? Feel free to add your thoughts below.