Dilly Good – Re-Mix

I may be a bit of infrequent blogger these days but I am predictable. (At least when it comes to quiche!)

As is often the case, I found myself once again with too much fresh dill in the fridge. And of course I always have Feta cheese on hands. So naturally I made a quiche. Much like my “Dilly Good” quiche from July 2016, I used potatoes in the base instead of a crust, making it more like a Tortilla Espanola” or a Spanish style potato omelet. (and gluten free) Which means I took my time slowly precooking the thin slices of potatoes in oil, over not too high a heat so they soften but not brown too much. And the same for the onions. Short of that I basically whisk up some eggs and dairy of choice (I like whole milk or half/half) and layer it all into a pie dish. Cook as you would any quiche – 40-45 mins at 400 degrees. Best served after it has cooled a bit or even room temperature.

Take a look at my process in pictures:

 

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Dilly Good

I think fresh dill is one of the most under-used, under-appreciated herbs. So every chance I get to use it, I do. And not just for pickles! or for Spanakopita!

This time I decided to use it in a quiche! My favorite way to use up stuff anyway is to pair it with eggs.

I decided instead of a crust to make more of  “Tortilla Espanola” or a Spanish style potato omelet. You typically start these on the stove-top and finish them in the oven, but feeling a little lazy I decided to do the whole thing in the oven. So I got out the trusty glass pie dish that I use for everything and layered the ingredients into it. I made sure to slice each ingredient thin so it would cook easily in the time I typically bake my quiches (about 45 mins at 425 degrees)

The layers of ingredients  – inspired by fresh dill – took on a decidedly “Eastern European” inspiration with red onion, potato and dill. A couple tablespoons of sour cream added to my standard quiche mix made everything extra light and fluffy! A little grated parmesan cheese on top never hurt anything !

 

 

 

Mother’s Challenge

My mom often has a little trouble in restaurants. She is a vegetarian. And she’s allergic to onions. And she only likes romaine lettuce. She doesn’t like heavily spiced food. Or salty food. And there are quite a few other things she doesn’t like. (mushrooms)

Now before you get all judge-y, just picture a nice little lady who wants a salad without iceberg lettuce and more veggies than old shredded carrots and radishes.  That doesn’t seem hard right? Especially in the nice restaurants where the chefs aim to please, where the fresh produce is in abundance, where the chef is professionally trained?

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get a decent salad these days. or heck, how about some pasta with a few hot veggies on it. Sometimes she even has trouble in vegetarian restaurants because this community relies so heavily on the use of onions (basis for just about everything) and mushrooms (often a “meat substitute.”)

It amazes me each time we go out to dinner how hard it is for a restaurant to accommodate. Sometimes they can’t even grasp substituting the romaine lettuce that they are already serving  for their Caesar salads as the lettuce for their garden salad. Anyway I digress.

Each time she comes to my house I make it my personal challenge to make delicious, vegetarian, onion-free food for her. (And of course it helps that I know all her likes/dislikes too.)

But if I can do this…

Onion-free, 5 ingredient Carrot Soup
Onion-free, 5 ingredient Carrot Soup with cream swirled in at serving time.

6-8 medium size carrots roasted on a sheet pan brushed with the tiniest bit of oil and the tiniest bit of salt and pepper.**

1 small head of garlic roasted in a foil packet with the same tiniest bit of oil.**

1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tsp honey or agave syrup

1-2 tsp dried dill ( or 1 tbsp fresh if you have it)

blend the carrots, ginger, agave/honey and 2-3 of the cloves from the roasted garlic head in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the dill. Add enough water till you have your desired consistency. Heat thru. Taste for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper if you need/want it.  Ladle into bowls and swirl a little cream, milk or half and half on top for extra creaminess.

**I roasted these a couple of days ahead when I had the oven on for something else. That makes this soup as easy as opening a can.

Author’s Notes

don’t add too much roasted garlic or this can easily become orange-colored garlic soup – which is okay if that is what you love.

Stock or milk could be used for all or part, as a substitute for the water.

Makes about 2-4 bowls depending on your level of consistency.

carrot soup in pan

Spana-what?

Spanakopita.

As a child growing up with a very progressive and adventurous mother, I assumed everybody was eating Spanakopita AKA “spinach pie”.  (I also assumed everybody was eating Tabbouleh too but that is another posting, for another day.)

What? You weren’t? Well you were missing out. This is probably where my insane love of Feta cheese started. And my love of  “Phyllo dough” sometimes spelled “Fillo.”  Since I am not Greek, I have no idea what is correct or not correct. But you can check it out here.

So when fate dealt me an excessive amount of spinach in my fridge, and of course I am never without a large supply of Feta, I immediately decided it was time to try my hand at making my own “spinach pie.” I had also recently watched an episode of “The Chew” where Michael Symon made it look so easy.

I have trouble following directions, so I had to tinker with the recipe.

I decided to add a sliced tomato!

And while I was adding tomatoes, why not throw in all the extra fresh basil leaves I still had? ( I can hear the Greek readers gasping right now!)

I didn’t have the fresh dill that most variations of the recipe called for, so I decided to use the dried dill that I had on hand. (more gasps) It worked great. To be honest in all my millions of times consuming Spanakopita, I had no idea dill was in it – but it definitely is. In fact,  I think that’s the “spana” in the “kopita!”

Just kidding.

Anyway, an hour later and more melted butter than I care to admit to, I had a beautiful pan of spinach, basil and tomato pie!

The Recipe

16 sheets of Phyllo dough – there is aprox 20 sheets in one of the two rolls that come in a 16oz box of Athens brand® – you may have mishaps or tear one – so the extra 4 sheets will come in handy – you could put an extra sheet in the middle or on top if you feel strongly about it, but not on the bottom or it will be too thick. Save the 2nd roll for another day. READ the box about storing and handling this delicate dough.

1 small onion finely diced – feel free to substitute garlic here or leave out the onion altogether. (you know who you are)

1 lb +/- fresh spinach leaves, de-stemed, washed and roughly chopped

2 Tb butter + 1 stick melted for brushing the layers of dough

2 cups (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves, no stems

1/4 cup fresh grated Romano cheese

1 Tb dried Dill

10 oz crumbled Feta cheese

1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

juice of half a lemon

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Brush a 9×12 (or some size close) baking dish with some melted butter or cooking spray. Saute the onion in the 2 tb butter until soft. Add the spinach leaves turning to coat and cook. Add the basil leaves, continuing to coat and cook a couple of minutes more. Add dill. Turn off heat and let cool a bit. It is okay if there is “liquid” in the pan from the greens. Add both cheeses, lemon juice and pepper. Stir and taste for seasoning. Set aside.

Assembly: in the bottom of the baking dish – carefully layer 8 (no more – no less) sheets of Phyllo dough, brushing each sheet after it it’s laid down with copious amounts of melted butter. After the 8th sheet is down. Spread half of the filling evenly across. Now layer 4 (3 would be okay here) sheets of Phyllo dough with the melted butter on top of each. Spread the other half of the filling on top. Layer on the sliced tomatoes. Layer 4 more sheets of Phyllo dough with the melted butter treatment on each sheet.

Bake for 30-35 mins until top is golden brown and flaky. It will be REALLY hard to wait for it to cool but I HIGHLY recommend you wait until it is almost room temperature to cut it or it will fall apart. This is great served room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.