In rural areas of Greece, local home cooks love using wild weeds in their cooking, for their amazing health benefits and slightly bitter flavour. Plus, it’s free! It’s a wonderful sustainable way to eat – and the best way to get rid of pesky weeds that might be growing in your garden.

You can collect wild weeds in Australia too, but make sure you don’t pick from next to roads where they might have car pollution, pesticides or dog piddles on them. It’s always best to forage with an experienced forager, but you can find lots of online guides such as http://sustainabletable.org.au/tabletalk/tabid/53/entryid/87/edible-weeds-seasonal-local-delicious-nutritious.aspx or buy “The weed foragers handbook” by Adam Grubb for a guide on what is in our Aussie backyards.

Sammy and Bella Foraging

Another favourite foraged green is native spinach, or warrigal greens. These grow along coastal rocky regions of temperate and sub tropical Australia, and can also be grown at home. In any case, you can use whatever is available to you in this recipe – whatever mix you like of weeds, natives, or spinach from your supermarket.

This dish is called a “strifti spanakopita” in Greek, which is a coiled, serpent shaped version of the more common spanakopita. It’s incredibly visually appealing, and a fantastic treat for your guests at a dinner party or picnic.

This recipe should give you two pies, about 30cm in diameter. If you can get a hold of a traditional Greek pita/pie dish then please use it! Otherwise a large paella dish or flat cookie sheet will do.

In the below recipe I have suggested to prepare one sheet of filo pastry at a time. Alternatively, if you have enough bench space and are a quick worker, try arranging 5 sheets long ways, slightly overlapping, then adding the second layer etc – this will avoid seams in the pie.

Spanacopita

Wild weed and native spinach spiral spanakopita with dukkah

Makes 2 large pies

For the filling:

  • 1kg greens (native spinach, edible weeds, or store bought spinach)
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300g goat or sheep feta, crumbled
  • 300g ricotta, crumbled
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 large or 2 small bunches dill, chopped finely
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ large bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dry greek wild oregano, leaves
  • decent grating of fresh nutmeg, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

to prepare pastry:

 

  • 20 sheets filo pastry (1 x 375g pack)
  • 250g butter, melted.
  • spray oil
  • ½ cup dukkah
  1. Bring a very large pot of water to the boil. Wash greens thoroughly and discard any tough stems. Blanch greens for 1 minute, then drain, let cool and squeeze dry. Chop finely.
  2. Slice leeks in half lengthways and wash thoroughly under running water. Save green parts for a stock for another recipe. Slice the white parts finely. Place sliced white parts and pine nuts in a frying pan on medium heat along with olive oil. Cook, stirring until leek is soft and nuts are caramelised.
  3. To complete the filling, place chopped blanched greens and leek mix into a large bowl along with crumbled feta and ricotta, eggs, chopped dill/parsley/spring onions, wild oregano, nutmeg, and seasoning. Mix well and separate into 10 even portions.
  4. To arrange the pie, melt the butter and make sure you have a pastry brush and 3 damp clean tea towels handy, as well as 2 (thin) baking sheets (or pie dishes) pre-lined with baking paper and sprayed with oil. Ensure you keep both the pies and spare filo sheets covered with the damp tea towels at all times.
  5. Take a sheet of filo and place on the bench top, brush with butter, place another sheet of filo on top, and brush again with butter. Take a portion of the filling and make a long-ways sausage shape at the base of the pie, then wrap it up into a log shape. Arrange the log in a tight spiral in the centre of the baking tray, or work from the outside in if you have a round pie dish. Continue with remaining filo and filling, arranging each next log from where the last one finished. Each pie should have 5 logs, and you should get 2 pies. Brush tops with remaining butter, and sprinkle over dukkah. Refrigerate the pies, covered in damp cloth, to chill, before baking. Or wrap tightly in cling film and freeze, then defrost before baking.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Bake the pie for 25 minutes or until golden. Serve hot or cold or reheated the next day.