My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Friday, October 1, 2010

In Honor of World Vegetarian Day: Spinach Strudel and Top Ten Misconceptions About Vegetarians

"I could have been a great vegetarian, If only I didn’t love steak so much."
Since today is World Vegetarian Day,  I decided to go meatless and  concocted a spinach strudel to celebrate.  This was great timing, since I was planning to post a vegetarian meal as requested by my friends at the Peace House.  Okay, they’re actually my son’s friends, but any friends of my kids are friends of mine.  Unless they’re pushing drugs, or that kid who uninvited Audrey to the prom the day after she bought a dress.

In honor of promoting peace, I put together a list of Top Ten Misconceptions about Vegetarians.  Stereotyping is bad, people.  All vegetarians aren’t weird anymore than all meat eaters are Jeffrey Dahmer. This is one minority that is very misunderstood.  Hug a vegetarian today (if you can find one, but not too hard).

Top Ten Misconceptions About Vegetarians:
 1.  They are starving, boney and fragile
 2.  Are hypochondriacs afraid of Mad Cow disease
 3. All live in California, were born there, or want to move there
 4.  Are actually the Green Party
 5.  Are all Buddists
 6.  All have hairy armpits and wear Birkenstocks
 7.  Are malnourished
 8.  Occasionally enjoy herb, and sometimes even grow it in their backyard (wink, wink)
 9.  Favor dreadlocks (no wait...that would be those who favor herb)
10.  Are cool people who can take a joke! (ok, that’s not a misconception J)

I drew inspiration for this recipe from 3 sources;  the vegetable strudel recipe in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a mushroom canapé recipe of my mother's, and of course, Spanakopita.

DON'T FEAR THE FILO, people!  It really is not difficult to use if you keep in mind a few things.  Always thaw it out in the fridge at least overnight, and then let it come to room temperature without unwrapping it!
If you try to use it and it's still even partially frozen, it will be brittle and impossible to work with without breaking into a million pieces.  Make your filling ahead of time and then set up your workstation with filling, melted butter, basting brush, baking dish, and a damp towel to cover filo stack while you're busy basting butter on the sheet in use. If you follow these procedures, it's not hard and the payoff in flaky goodness is worth it!  If you absolutely, positively know you won't attempt it, then a shortcut would be to follow the directions for Spicy Beef Pies but substitute the Spinach filling.

Spinach Strudel

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 clove of garlic, run through press or minced
10 ounces mushrooms, chopped small
1 carrot, shredded
2 10 ounce bags of fresh washed spinach, chopped (or 2 10 ounce boxes of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water.
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dry Sherry (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 lb filo pastry leaves, thawed and brought to room temperature
3/4 cup melted butter

In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium-high and add onion.  Cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften, then add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms start to brown.
Add carrot and cook for a few minutes.  If you're using fresh spinach, add one bag and cook for a few minutes, stirring, it will shrink down quickly, trust me.  Then add second bag and repeat.  
When the spinach has cooked down, add the cheeses and seasonings.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.  Set filling aside and set up your workstation and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
 Butter your baking dish, then take one filo sheet and place it in the dish.  It is okay if it rides up the sides of the dish.  Cover filo stack with a damp towel. Baste filo sheet liberally with melted butter (including sides).  Repeat 6 to 8 times.
Once you have 6 to 8 layers, you can spread the filling over the dough, all the way to the edges.  Place a sheet of filo on top of the filling and brush with melted butter.  Repeat 6 to 8 times. 
Gently tuck down any of the dough that was riding up the sides of the pan.  With a pizza cutter, gently roll out a diamond pattern on the pasty.
Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until nicely golden brown.  Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares.  Serves 9.


riceandwheat said...

Thanks for the nice comment you left on my blog, which led me here to yours. Your list about vegetarians is hilarious! I have to admit that for the longest time, I was in the camp of the filo-fearers but not anymore! Which means I can make your spinach strudel with no fear. ;)

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Aawww, thanks! I do hope you get to advance to the next challenge (I think you will). Glad you stopped made my night :-)

Anna Johnston said...

Nice little vego number you've got going on here Margaret :) Great tip on the Filo pastry :)

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thanks Anna!

Debbie said...

This sounds delicious, now I just have to talk my husband into Spinach! Love the dish!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thank you Debbie!