Confessions of a Food Network Wanna Be ~ Spanakopita “Three Ways”

I can live with a certain amount of tension.  Expected tension… like a dentist’s drill (which thankfully, I haven’t experienced in many years), or an air conditioning bill after the 100° heat — a given this summer.

But when it comes to tension “so-thick-you-can-cut-it-with-a-knife” (on Food Network Television), I’m just not ready for it.  (Yet…)  How ’bout you?

Sure, there are stress levels unique to each show, from the clock-ticking, nail-biting, make-something-and-make-it-look-pretty phenomenon known as “Chopped,” to the drawn-out-drama of “The Next Food Network Star,” to the ever fun “Cupcake Wars,” and myriad shows in between.  (FYI, a dozen cupcakes is all I can handle at one time — never mind the show stopping display — but if you ever need a taste-tester…)

If I had to name my poison, I’d pick “Chopped” — fast, furious, and concluded within an hour (at least in TV land.)  I’m also mighty handy with three or four ingredients — just open my fridge. :)

For now, I opt to watch from the sidelines.  (Wise decision, Padawan learner — your knife skills need work…)  Which leads me to ask, “Do you really think it’s possible to hone knife skills in one triumphant onion-chopping scene, ala ‘Julie & Julia?’

One thing all of the shows have in common (and which I admire) is that every “wanna be” loves food.  From their upbeat bio’s to their passionate presentations, they believe in themselves and love what they do.  (I like to think we all do, or why else would we be here?)

My favorite contestants are the ones who attempt to wow the judges with something made “three ways.”  (Admirable?  Yes.  Realistic?  Not always.)  I’d be happy to plate something in any way, shape, or form, let alone multiple versions in the given amount of time.  But I can dream… and I did… this past week.

I present to you:  Spanakopita “Three Ways.”

Yup, there’s more than one way to deal with “mystery ingredients.”  (Generally this time of year, a grocery sack full of zucchini — but in this case, spinach.)  After prolonged pondering about plating (such are the luxuries of in-home installments of Chopped), I thought to myself, “Why make one batch?”  There’s just The Man Of Few Words and me, and variety is the spice of life.

So, I did what any self-respecting Southern cook would do.  I tossed the leftover filling into some ramekins, nestled a crust over one and proclaimed, “Pot Pie!”, then threw a mess of cheese on top of the other and declared, “Kiss My Au Gratin!” :)

Chopped?  Only the filling…


(slightly adapted from… Food Network)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided (plus additional, for brushing)

2 T. butter, divided

8 oz. baby spinach, washed and drained

2 scallions, chopped (I used Vidalia onions — they were in the Mystery Basket)

2 T. finely chopped fresh parsley (omitted because mine shriveled up in the heat while I was away)

1 T. fresh dill (I used 1 tsp. dried.. mine was shriveled up, yada yada)

1 (5 oz.) containter Feta cheese

1 egg, beaten

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste (be judicious — it depends on the saltiness of your Feta — but don’t under-season either!)

Pastry for one 9″ pie crust, brushed with melted Hope Butter (bear in mind, I just got back from Minnesota) — or, use the traditional phyllo dough brushed with copious amounts of butter per the Food Network link above; it’s up to you.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet; set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté spinach (in two batches, if necessary) in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter until wilted, stirring with tongs.  Remove from heat.  (Alternatively, blanch spinach in boiling salted water for 1 minute; plunge into an ice water bath.)

Transfer spinach to a colander and squeeze out excess moisture.  Remove spinach to a cutting board; chop finely and set aside.

Drain liquid from skillet; add remaining oil and butter and return to medium heat.  Add scallions (or onion); sauté until translucent.  Remove from heat; cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine spinach, scallions (or onion), parsley, dill, Feta, and beaten egg.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Meanwhile, roll out pie crust and cut into 3″ x 3″ squares.  Place a teaspoon of filling on each square; brush edges with water, fold over to form a triangle, and seal.  Place Spanakopita on prepared baking sheet.  Brush each triangle with olive oil before baking.

Note:  If you happen to have extra filling and pie crust dough (I did), place the filling in a buttered ramekin.  Top with crust, trim and crimp edges, cut a steam vent in the center, and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes (keep an eye on ’em — the edges brown faster than the middle — move up a rack, if necessary) until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Note:  If you don’t have enough pie crust left over to make a “pot pie,” simply place the remaining spinach filling in a buttered ramekin and top with grated Mozzarella or other “melty” cheese.  Bake as directed above.  While it doesn’t have the traditional “crust” associated with Spanakopita, I submit the following photo and ask, “Does it matter?” :)

I truly don’t know if I could handle the tension of Food Network or not… but if I keep practicing, I’ll be able to cut it with a knife. :)

Enjoying “good” tension,

~ Kim

Which cooking show do you dream of being on, and why?

29 thoughts on “Confessions of a Food Network Wanna Be ~ Spanakopita “Three Ways”

  1. I think this is the part I enjoy the most about discovering new blogs and following them..The passion bloggers seem to have for what they do.
    If I had to pick my poison it would be iron chef .
    I too have my moments when I try to be extra creative and put a new spin on things and I have to say I love all three versions you made. My favorite would probably be the crunchy triangles but they all sound amazing

  2. Hahaha! I’m loving your humor this afternoon. From “Wise decision, Padawan learner” to “kiss my au gratin,” you’ve got me a-gigglin’. Personally, I’d love to dig into the pot pie version–YUM!

  3. AH! You make me smile! This is so me ;) of course I dream on being on a show like those but I would have to say: Chopped. I love making something out of “nothing” or the impossibility of an ingredients!
    Your friend Isabelle also an overachiever…3 ways to make 1 dish…really Kim! ha ha ha just teasing you! I love ya!

  4. My tension level is always down, as I’ll find ways to de-stress myself. I’m sure u know by now. Always looking for lame excuse to pamper myself. Lol!

    I’m new to the name Spankopita, but I love spinach & the pie is delish! 3-ways?? Simply lovely!

    • Shirley, I’m new to MOST of the recipe names on your blog, lol, but that doesn’t stop me from drooling… :) I agree — you sure know how to pamper yourself, but you’re a dear because you share your secrets!

  5. I’m clearly missing out by not having cable! Although, I did move to the Caribbean to GETAWAY from stress :) Awesome three-way on the spanakopita! I’ve only had it the pastry way so I’d be keen to try the other mix ups!

    • Parsley Sage, there’s an ongoing debate in our household on whether to ditch satellite TV or not. (Although I’d miss FN TV shows…) Enjoy that Caribbean view!

  6. I love this dish. And I also make it with dill and feta. I like them presented as little triangles because I think they make excellent party fare that you can eat while standing with a drink – delicious! xx

    • Charlie, I love parties where the drinks and appetizers are circulated on trays… ever the ready supply. ;) Truthfully, it surprised me that dill wasn’t included in the Food Network recipe — it’s the added “oomph” in this recipe. (Or should I say “oompa?!”)

  7. I tend not to watch food network on my own. Since I’m not a cook, I can’t really learn from it and it just makes me hungry. :) But my extended family members love it, so we often watch when we’re together and I get caught up in all the excitement. I love how imaginative the cooks always are. Just like you!

    • Shary, I arm myself with an apple before I watch Food Network TV — it makes me hungry, too! Sounds like you have fun with your family when they watch. :) Thanks for coming by!

  8. Yippee – another Food Network fan! The Sandwich King is my new favorite, I’ve made like 5 of his sandwiches so far – he grew up in the town next to me, although he is, ahem, several years younger than me.

    I don’t get the cupcake wars, that’s about the only show I don’t watch. But I guess I’d have to say Chopped would be the one show I’d like to be on – I am a very “recipe” driven cook, so that would be a good challenge for me.

    Nice to “meet” you!

    • That’s cool that you grew up close to The Sandwich King — and you don’t look any older than he does! Truthfully, I don’t watch TV very often, but I enjoy my Tuesday night date with Ted and Sunday night sit down with Alton, Bobby, & Giada. :) (At least until this “season” is over.) The other shows are fun and a pleasant diversion whenever I tune in. Nice to meet you, too!

  9. I enjoy many of the shows, but I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be to go on air with Ina Garten. I love her scenic backdrops and the foods she makes, yum! I thought about competition shows, and have done a timed competition once – stressful, fun and memorable. That was good enough. LOL I’d stick to having my own show otherwise, something I’m working on now… ;)

  10. Hey Kimby

    I have all the ingredients (almost all) so I will try to make the “kiss my au gratin” version of it….:)

    And to answer your question at the bottom, I have filled the application form for Masterchef UK…..fingers crossed…:)


  11. OOOOH…Spankopita is delicious…I loved all the three ways. Yes, all these cooking contests on TV spin a lot of tension around, but after watching those each time, I am filled with more enthusiasm to try out newer recipes and to focus seriously on the presentation! Spinach is such a great vegetable and I love to experiment with it. I am going to try this recipe for sure. Bookmarking this …

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