Spanikopita Casserole

Spanikopita Casserole (served with roasted butternut squash)

Spanikopita Casserole
Serves 4-6, depending on appetite
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
1 small onion, finely diced or grated (I actually use a microplane grater for the onion and garlic in this recipe to get a smoother texture in the filling)
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 cups chopped fresh kale
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
pinch nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon zest
Juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 cups good quality ricotta cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the pastry:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 sheets thawed phyllo dough, preferably whole-wheat

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and kale.  Season with crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and nutmeg, and cook for 4-5 minutes, just until the kale is slightly wilted and everything is warmed through.  Shut off the heat, add the lemon zest and juice, and stir.  Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the ricotta and feta cheeses until the filling is smooth and evenly combined.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Melt the butter together with the 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan.  Liberally brush the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish (preferably glass) with the butter/oil mixture.  Cut the sheets of phyllo dough in half crosswise.  Place one sheet into the bottom of the dish, allowing it to overlap up one side of the pan; brush with butter/oil.  Place another piece of phyllo into the bottom of the dish, on top of the first, and let it overlap up the opposite side.  Brush again with butter/oil.  Repeat with pieces of phyllo dough, alternating directions, until there are eight layers in the bottom of the pan and some overlap coming up each of the four sides of the dish.
Press the filling gently into the phyllo crust, making sure it’s evenly distributed.  Use the remaining sheets of phyllo dough to cover the top completely, folding any excess in towards the center this time, brushing each layer with the butter/oil mixture as before.  Bake the casserole at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until it’s golden brown and crispy and the filling is heated through.  Let stand for 3-5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

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