November 16, 2016

butternut squash and feta spinach pie

Canada it seems, is one of the most seasonal places in the world. There are not many places that have such extremes between summer and winter, and such distinct seasons. I find myself now living in what many people have referred to as a "seasonal" town. The summers are packed with people, gorgeous weather for the beaches and many activities. So what happens the rest of the time? From what I have seen, everything still flows through with the passing of the seasons, especially things like fruits and vegetables. 


We are so lucky to live in a place where we have access to an abundance of local food. Although there are sometimes fewer options in the fall and winter months, there are still creative things you can do with all of those root vegetables and winter greens. I bought a butternut squash a few weeks ago from a local farm that according to my kitchen scale actually weighed 10 pounds. I bought 2 pumpkins, some decorative gourds, a few vegetables and the squash for about $20. Sadly, the farm closed for the season last week, however, I am still using up the giant squash.

Israeli couscous salad with butternut squash

My first order of business with the squash was to attempt to cut it up. My pro tip for butternut squash is to slice the peels off of the cubes before you roast it. If you roast the cubes with the peels then you end up trying to peel mushy bits of squash and it turns into a huge mess. I made this Autumn Pearl Couscous salad for a Halloween party we attended. I liked how the squash added some colour to the salad and I liked the recipe even though generally I'm not a huge fan of eating squash cold. On Halloween night, we lit up the porch on our new place (we have a real porch now!) with some pumpkins and handed out candy to the little ones. As usual, I ended up eating more candy than I gave away.


Then it was time to get even more creative with the butternut squash. I made butternut squash soup (kind of boring) and wanted to do something a little more exciting. With some extensive internet searching, I found recipes for squash pastas, curries, chilis and all sorts of things. Is everyone else googling "what can I do with this giant squash?" I stumbled across a pie recipe that was a take on a Greek Spanakopita with squash and made a few changes of my own. I am totally alright with some buttery pastry, squash and a lot of cheese. I guess there's some spinach in there.

butternut squash and spinach pie

Butternut squash and spinach pie

Ingredients:
1 package frozen phyllo pastry
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 box of spinach
2 eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
1. Drizzle the butternut squash with 1 tbsp of olive oil and roast on a baking sheet in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 400F.
2. In a pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until slightly browned.
3. Put the spinach in a colander and pour boiling water over it to soften. Make sure to squeeze as much water out as you can.
4. Combine the onions, garlic, spinach and eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. You can also add a bit of oregano, basil, parsley or thyme.

phyllo pastry

5. Lay the phyllo pastry out over a round pie dish. I like to centre it so half of the pastry hangs off so I can then fold it over the top. Brush the first layer with olive oil. 

butternut squash pie

6. Add the butternut squash after you have let it slightly cool from roasting. Then add the spinach and cheese mixture and mix well. 

butternut squash phyllo pie

7. Fold the pastry over the top of the pie filling and trim the edges. Brush the top with olive oil. 

phyllo pie

8. Bake the pie at 375F for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. 

butternut squash pie

Spinach and feta pie is such a classic that is hard to stray away from. I liked the addition of the squash, as it added almost a bit of sweetness to it. It didn't make the pie feel too dense like some squash or pumpkin dishes do sometimes. You could also use goat cheese with the butternut squash for an interesting pie combination. This pie would also make a great vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving or the holidays. 

butternut squash and feta spinach pie
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