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Cook the Book: Mama Voula's Spanakopita

Photograph from avlxyz on Flickr

While I was in college, art school to be exact, I was a vegetarian. I also wasn't a very adventurous cook. Spaghetti with jarred pasta sauce with some soy "meat" substitute, taco salad made with soy "meat"... you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, I ate fairly well and my friends (mostly vegetarian art school students) were always happy with the meals that I made. But one day, I decided to branch out and cook something a bit more labor-intensive. I made spanakopita. I have to say that it was a revelation. It turned out beautifully and gave me the confidence to try out other more involved cooking projects. Years later, my cooking skills have vastly improved and there are few dishes that I won't try to make in my home kitchen. And I still love spanakopita.

This recipe for spanakopita from JoAnn Cianciulli's L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook is adapted from Ulysses Voyage, a Greek taverna in Farmers Market. The recipe comes from owner Peter Carabatos's grandmother, Mama Voula. She's a native of the village of Kalamata, home of the famous black olive. Mama Voula used a thicker style of filo for her spanakopita, making it a bit more resilient and easier to handle. Look for country-style filo or substitute puff pastry for this recipe.

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