At holiday time, the food corner of the internet is awash in sweets and liquor. Being a contrarian, I couldn’t resist “counter programming” and heading to my vegetable bin. But not to worry, this feta spinach mold is elegant and tasty enough for your New Year’s Eve bash or New Year’s day buffet.
I spent way too long trying to figure out what to call this feta spinach dish. The inspiration was a torta di spinaci from Giuliano Hazan’s Every Night Italian. A version of that Italian name or the English translation, spinach loaf, might have worked. But the Italian one didn’t exactly roll off my tongue and the term “loaf” reminds me of meatloaf or one of those horrid nut/vegetable concoctions. I decided to go with feta spinach mold, a name that would make my Mad Men-era parents smile.
While this may called be a mold, there are no jello or frou-frou shapes involved. Guiliano is the only son of Marcella Hazan, one of my cooking heros. Like his mother, Guiliano is all about classic, simple cuisine. I’ve retained that simplicity and the basic loaf shape, while heading in a slightly different (Greek-style) taste direction.
Whether it reminds you of an Italian torta, spanakopita without the phyllo, or crustless quiche with more spinach than egg, this is an ideal make-ahead buffet dish. It can be served warm or room temperature and refrigerates well, either in the pan, or sliced and covered.
The feta and spinach are key to this dish. Avoid overly salty, pre-crumbled cheese. My favorite is sheep’s milk that comes in a box with 2 large blocks (14 ounces total) immersed in liquid. Whichever type you use, taste it and make sure you like it on its own. This recipe calls for 2 pounds of baby spinach. When you look at the bulk of the fresh spinach, you may be tempted to buy frozen. I have one word for you – don’t! You can’t get the same taste or texture with frozen.
The mold shape comes from baking it in a buttered loaf pan, dusted with breadcrumbs.
In just a few minutes, the pile of pile of spinach goes from this
Cut and sauté some leeks
Add in the eggs, milk, and flour, plus the feta and chopped dill, sprinkle some more breadcrumbs on top and bake.
Flipping this baby over is not nearly as momentous as the rolling of the chocolate roulade.
Then all you have to do is slice
Happy New Year!