Tarta Spanaki - Spinach & Kalamata Olive Tart


This Greek recipe for spinach tart is inspired by the classic Greek spanakopita, except I use puff pastry instead of phyllo, and by the flavor palette of Messinia, where extra virgin olive oil and olives figure prominently. The landscape is almost one continuous olive grove and savory pies are a common treat. Ironically, olives are not typically incorporated into cooked dishes but rather served as a meze on the table. Here’s a modern rendition, where Kalamata olives are tossed into the filling and add an underlying umami flavor to the subtle earthiness of the spinach.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra - virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks only the white and very tender green parts washed and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 lb. / 450 g frozen spinach defrosted, or 2 pounds fresh, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives rounds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. / 450 g Greek anthotiro or fresh ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 puff pastry sheet defrosted in the refrigerator
  • Flour as needed

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, in a large frying pan. Add leeks and onion, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until wilted. Stir in the garlic and continue to sauté for about 1 minute.
  2. If using fresh spinach, steam it in a steamer basket until wilted, about 8 minutes. If using frozen, defrosted spinach, add it to the leek mixture and cook until wilted and softened. Place the mixture in a colander and press with the back of a large spoon or spatula, so that the liquid drains out. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Add the olives. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the cheese with 2 eggs in a large bowl. Add this mixture to the spinach and mix well.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F/ 190ºC.
  6. Unwrap the puff pastry sheet onto a clean, lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin roll it open a little, so that it is larger than the periphery or circumference of the tart pan you are using. Cover the tart pan with parchment paper. Transfer the dough into the tart pan. Fill the tart with the spinach mixture. Roll the excess puff pastry dough around the circumference or periphery of the pan to form a rim. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg and brush the uncovered part of the filling. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the dough turns golden and sets. Remove the tart from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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