It killed me every time until I found out that you can eat those radish greens and they are delicious.
Yes, you can eat them! Raw, they have a nice, spicy bite. Cooked, their flavor mellows and they taste warm and wonderful. Like the best tasting, silkiest spinach ever. To think that I was throwing them away for all those years!
They are a bit of a pain to clean since you have to fastidiously wash all the dirt and grit from the leaves and stems. It is worth it though.
When I saw wild spinach (also known as lambsquarter) at the Greenmarket, I immediately thought that spanakopita would be a great way to use both greens. When I think about Greek food, I think about the Greek landscape: scrubby in parts, dotted with wild herbs and craggy olive trees. There is something a little rustic about the combination of wild spinach and radish greens that fits my little Mediterranean fantasy (never mind the fact that there is nothing rustic about the Greeks; they are as polished and well-turned out as the Milanese).
Spanakopita is wonderful mix of greens and feta wrapped up in flaky phyllo dough. You can make these little triangles, or alternately layer the phyllo dough sheets and the filling in a ceramic dish to bake as a giant pie.
Some might be disappointed to see that I didn’t make my own phyllo. Does anyone really make their own phyllo anymore? I think the oft-repeated saying goes that a woman is good Greek marriage material when she can roll phyllo thin enough for her prospective husband to be able to read a newspaper through it. I don’t plan on being anyone’s Hellenic housewife any time soon, so store-bought phyllo dough it is!
6 cups of radish greens, washed
6 cups of wild spinach, washed
1/2 pound of feta, crumbled
The zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
6 sheets of frozen phyllo dough, completely thawed
1 stick of butter, melted
How to prepare:
1. In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat. When the oil becomes fragrant, add the wild spinach to the pot along with a few tablespoons of water. Sauté the spinach until it is just wilted. Remove the wilted spinach with tongs to a colander to drain. Repeat this process with the radish greens.
2. When the greens are cool enough to handle, use your hands to gently squeeze and press as much liquid as possible out of the leaves. You will be amazed how much liquid there is. Try to be thorough; the less moisture there is in the leaves, the better your filling will be.
3. Finely chop the greens and put them in a large bowl. To the bowl, add the feta and the nutmeg. Stir everything together until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the greens. Adjust the seasoning before adding the beaten egg.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°.
4. Fold the phyllo sheets in half lengthwise and cut them in half. Fold each half lengthwise and cut them in half again. Each phyllo dough sheet will give you 4 long strips of dough. Cover the strips snugly in plastic wrap. Working one strip at a time, make the spanakopita. Gently brush each strip with melted butter. Starting at one end, put a dollop (about a scant tablespoon) of filling in the upper corner. Fold the phyllo dough down over the filling to make a triangle. Now fold the filled triangle up. Continue to fold the strip into triangles, like folding an flag (or at least how we Americans fold a flag). Don’t worry if the folds aren’t perfect. Working with phyllo can be very forgiving because you can always make the uneven edges stick to main triangle with more butter.
If you want crunchier spanakopita, you can layer two strips of phyllo dough together with brushed butter and then fold the triangles up as you would with one strip. Just remember that you will need double the number of phyllo dough sheets in this case.
Continue folding with the remaining strips of phyllo dough. Arrange the completed triangles in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. You should end up with 24 filled triangles total.
5. Brush the triangles with the remaining melted butter. Bake them for 20-25 minutes until they are golden and crisp. Serve hot.
I had planned on adding about 1/4 cup of fresh dill, a 1/4 of a cup of fresh parsley and a 1/4 of a cup of freshly chopped green onions, but I got distracted by a terrible werewolf movie on television called Blood and Chocolate. I think lost brain cells! It wasn’t even corny, or cheesy or cool in a bad cult-movie kind of way. It was just bad.