Its always a hard question to answer, but I would say my biggest food influences and inspiration comes from the south eastern Mediterranean countries – the Balearic coast, the greek islands and the islands surrounding North Africa, formerly known as the Barbary coast.
Perhaps it is my penchant for all manner of charred and smoked food that lured me in, but cooking over coals and in clay ovens is something that gives even the most simple dishes endless flavour. This is a dish I fist had cooked that way, at the back of a clay oven, charred to the aubergines for baba ganoush.
For this reason it is also a recipe I associate with summer, barbecued meats, shrimp sagnaki and epic greek salads. the combination of it all certainly makes for one hell of a party, let me tell you.
This dish is also one of my favourite accompaniments for a weekend roast. Its super tasty and so easy to make. The simplicity of baby new potatoes, combined with wilted spinach are mild and really work wonderfully with the bubbly baked feta and aromatic zaatar herb mix. All it needs is a good quality olive oil and a sprinkle of toasted garlic for the dish come to life.
Spinach, Feta and Zaatar Pie
Fills one 12inch round dish
- 500g potatoes, cut in small cubes
- 300g baby spinach
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 1/2 lemon, zest only
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 200g feta
- 60ml e v olive oil
- 1 tbs zaatar
- 50g parmesan, grated
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven the 180 degrees C/ 375 degrees F
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, by one inch. Season with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Boil potatoes for 25 minutes, or until tender and fully cooked, then drain them through a colander
Wash and pick through the spinach, then place it in the drained potato saucepan with a dash of water (enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Place the lid on and put it over a low flame on the hob, for 3-4 minutes.
Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a heavy frying pan or skillet. Add the sliced onions and sauté over a low heat until they are soft and translucent.
Combine the soft onions with the potatoes, spinach, 3/4 feta and 3/4 zaatar. (If you can;t find zaatar, you can use a dried herb mix alternative, like herbs de provence ) Turn the mixture into a baking dish and zest over the lemon.
Fry the chopped garlic on a pan with the remaining olive oilfor 1-2 minutes. Wait until it is very light golden and smelling fragrant, but DON’T let it burn!
Crumble the remaining feta over the potato and spinach, then pour over the garlic oil, making sure its evenly covered. Finish the dish with the grated parmesan and a sprinkle more zaatar
Place in the oven to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the mixture is all hot and bubbly. Serve immediately