Tag Archives: spinach

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Corn Risotto

So, I actually made this dish back when corn was in season. Due to my little monster, I’m just now getting around to posting it for your eyes. If you don’t want to wait until the summer rolls around again to test this one out (and you shouldn’t!), try it with some frozen roasted corn. I’ve seen bags recently at Trader Joe’s, so I’m sure you can find them everywhere.

Even though it was so long ago, I remember that this risotto was DELICIOUS. One of those dishes where the husband and I took our first bites, looked at each other, and were speechless. It’s always wonderful when such a simple dish turns out to be such a flavorful masterpiece!

Ingredients
6 cups  broth or water
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red pepper, roasted then roughly chopped
2 ears corn, gently roasted. Remove kernels from the ear and set aside.
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, warm up the broth and let it sit over low heat while you are cooking.
2.  In a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent (about 3-4 minutes).

3. Add rice and saute until slightly darkened in color (3-4 minutes). Make sure to stir the rice constantly so that it does not burn.

4. Add white wine and cook until the rice has fully absorbed the liquid.
5. Add 1/2 cup of the broth in with the rice, cooking until it is fully absorbed. Watch carefully and stir very frequently to avoid burning. Keep adding broth a 1/2 cup at a time, only adding more after the rice has absorbed the other liquid. This process will take about 20 minutes to half an hour. Be patient and make sure to keep stirring…this is not a dish you can multitask with!!

6. When you add your last 1/2 cup of broth, also add in the corn kernels, peppers, spinach and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. When rice has absorbed the broth, remove from heat.

7.  Place risotto on plates and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Eat immediately.

I decided to top ours with a little grilled chicken sausage for a little more sustenance.  Totally not necessary, but it was a great addition.

Don’t let this dish scare you away because of the constant attention you have to give it with all the stirring. You’re going to have to open a bottle of white wine for the beginning of the recipe….no one is going to notice if you have a glass (or two) while you watch your rice…I won’t tell a soul!

Homemade Albanian Pite

So, here it is finally! My Americanized (really, it’s just sized down!) version of my mother-in-law’s pite. We couldn’t believe how well the first try turned out. I was especially impressed that our little oven could produce such an even-browning on the top of the pie. Kudos all around!

Warning: this recipe is not for the weak-hearted. It sounds very complicated, but I promise, it’s only slightly complicated! Watching someone make pite is much easier than reading about it, so maybe one of these days I’ll make a video recipe. Until then, good luck and email me if you have any questions!

Ingredients
Dough:

2 cups water (lukewarm)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
3.5 to 4 c. all-purpose flour

1. Mix salt, water and oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add in flour until mixture forms a dough.

2. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, not sticky.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let sit for 1/2 an hour, preferably in a warm place. I usually turn my oven on “warm” and let the bowl sit on the range during this time. It works like a charm!

Butter Mixture:
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp evoo

1. Melt together on the stove over “low” then set aside until needed. If the butter becomes hard (you can’t easily spread with a pastry brush) then re-heat on very low.

Filling:
1/2 lb. fresh spinach (remove any large stems because they are bitter)
2 cups Feta cheese, crumbled

1. Stack handfuls of spinach in neat piles and then roll the stacks up like cigars.


2. Chop spinach rolls width-wise so that you get thin ribbons.


3. Place the spinach ribbons in a colander over a large bowl.


4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the spinach and let it sit until you need it later. The spinach will sweat out all excess water during this process.

Putting it all together:
1. After dough has risen, place it on  a floured surface.
2. Roll it with your hands into a snake-like shape (think kindergartners playing with clay!)


3. Cut off golf-ball-sized pieces (I got about 28 out of my dough).

4. Form the pieces into balls by folding the edges of the dough inward. Flip over so the smooth side of the dough balls face up.

5. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into about 3-4″ circles/ovals (you want the dough as thin as possible).


6. Take each dough circle and individually stretch them out even further by hand (think pizza-making!). Be careful that the dough does not tear during this process.


7. As you stretch out each circle, you want to start stacking them on top of each other and sealing the edges of each together. In between each layer, brush on some of the butter mixture. SO, it’ll go:

-Stretched one circle of dough, lay it on the table
-Brush on butter mixture (cover the entire surface)


-Stretch another circle of dough
-Lay the second circle on top of the first, and pull the edges of the second circle so it aligns with the first circle


-Press edges together so they fuse
-REPEAT

You’ll want to make three piles of these stacks of dough circles. 1 pile will have 5 layers; this will be your inner layer of the pie. The 2 other piles will be your bottom layer and top layer of the pie. These two stacks should have an equal amount of dough layers.

Everyone still with me!?!?!?

Ok. the hard part is done. NOW you get to assemble the actual pie. Preheat your oven to 375*

8. Brush a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking sheet. Move your bottom layer of dough (stretch it further as you move it) and place on the baking sheet. Stretch the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan and pinch the edges of the dough directly to the pan so it sticks.


9. Squeeze the water from your spinach and then spread half evenly on the dough.


10. Sprinkle some feta evenly on top of the spinach. Amount is to your taste.


11. Drizzle a little butter mixture over the spinach & feta.
12. Repeat steps 8-11 with your thinner middle layer of dough.
13. Place the top layer of dough on top; pinch the corners of the dough together so all edges of the pie are sealed.


14. Brush MORE butter on the top of the dough.
15. Place dough in oven and bake until the top is nice and brown (my oven took about 45 minutes for this, yours will probably be different!).


16. Slice and serve immediately. Leftovers are quite delicious too!

I want to let everyone know that I would have not gotten through this process without the help of my wonderful husband. He’s my favorite sous chef, beer opener, and dough roller!

We shared our first pite with a couple of our friends.  We pulled off a full Albanian spread: pite (made by us), sausage & ajvar (made by Lindi’s mom),  raki (made by Lindi’s parents’ neighbor), and a chopped salad (chopped by me).

It was the perfect feast that brought us right back to Kosovo.

I love how food can do that. : )

Here is the recipe again, without picture interruptions:

Ingredients:

Dough:
2 cups water (lukewarm)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp. evoo
3.5 to 4 c. all-purpose flour
1. Mix salt, water and oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add in flour until mixture forms a dough.
2. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, not sticky.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let sit for 1/2 an hour. (preferably in a warm place. I usually turn my oven on “warm” and let the bowl sit on the range during this time. It works like a charm!)

Butter Mixture:
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp evoo
1. melt together on the stove over “low” then set aside until needed.

Filling:
1/2 lb. fresh spinach, chopped into ribbons
2 cups Feta cheese

Putting it all together:
1. After dough has risen, place it on  a floured surface.
2. Roll it with your hands into a snake-like shape (think kindergartners planing with clay!)
3. Cut off golf-ball sized pieces (I got about 28 out of my dough).
4. Form the pieces into balls by folding the edges of the dough inward. Flip over so the smooth side of the dough balls faces up.
5. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into about 3-4″ circles/ovals (you want the dough as thin as possible).
6. Take each dough circle and individually stretch them out even further by hand (think pizza-making!).
7. As you stretch out each circle, you want to start stacking them on top of each other and sealing the edges of each together. In between each layer, brush on some of the butter mixture. So, it’ll go:

-Stretched one circle of dough, lay it on the table
-Brush on butter mixture (cover the entire surface)
-Stretch another circle of dough
-Lay the second circle on top of the first, and pull the edges of the second circle so it aligns with the first circle
-Press edges together so they fuse
-REPEAT

You’ll want to make three piles of these stacks of dough circles. 1 pile will have 5 layers; this will be your inner layer on the pie. The 2 other piles will be your bottom layer and top layer of the pie. These two stacks should have about an equal amount of dough layers.

NOW you get to assemble the actual pie. Preheat your oven to 375*

8. Brush a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking sheet. Move your bottom layer of dough (stretch it further as you move it) and place on the baking sheet. Stretch the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan and pinch the edges of the dough directly to the pan so it sticks.
9. Squeeze the water from your spinach and then spread half evenly on the dough.
10. Sprinkle some feta evenly on top of the spinach. Amount is to you taste.
11. Drizzle a little butter mixture over the spinach & feta.
12. Repeat steps 8-11 with your thinner middle layer of dough.
13. Place the top layer of dough on top pinch the corners of the dough together so all edges of the pie are sealed.
14. Brush MORE butter on the top of the dough.
15. Place dough in oven and bake until the top is nice and brown (my oven took about 45 minutes for this, yours will probably be different!).
16. Slice and serve immediately. Leftovers are quite delicious too!

If anyone out there actually tries this on their own, please let me know how it goes!