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Early summer is a fantastic time to cook with spinach, before the heat gets going and the plant starts to bolt. I love a variety with large, deeply crinkled leaves on a cluster of stems that arrives in the spring and early summer. It is delicious simply braised in olive oil with the residual water it has been washed in. These large-leaved varieties with glossy emerald-green leaves are very seductive to cook with.

+ Ingredients

1kg spinach, washed and tough stems removed
100g melted butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled, then very finely chopped
1tsp fresh oregano leaves stripped from their stems, or 1tsp dried oregano
6 large eggs
1 x 200g packet of feta cheese, crumbled with a fork
500g cottage cheese, drained
1 handful of freshly grated parmesan (about 125g)*
1/2 a nutmeg

1 x 225g packet of ready-made filo pastry (you need 8-10 sheets)

+ Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/ Gas 6. Blanch the spinach in boiling, salted water for 1 minute, then drain and squeeze out any excess water. Spread the spinach out on kitchen paper to cool, and then chop very roughly.

Heat a little of the butter and the olive oil in a heavy-based pan, then gently sweat the onion until it is soft and translucent but not brown. If you are using dried oregano, add with the onion and let it cook for a minute or so, then add the spinach and toss everything together. If you are using fresh
oregano, lightly chop the leaves and add after the spinach. Take off the heat and leave to cool down completely.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat together. Add the feta, cottage cheese and parmesan*. Grate in the ½ a nutmeg using the zesting part of the grater. Mix all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooled spinach mixture and check the seasoning.

Melt the remaining butter and use some of it to oil the bottom and sides of the baking dish, then lay a sheet of filo in the bottom and brush with butter. Repeat with 3 or 4 more sheets. (Keep the remaining filo sheets covered with a clean, damp cloth.) Using a pastry brush, brush the top sheet of
filo with melted butter and drizzle a little olive oil lightly over it (to help keep it crisp). Spoon or pour in the spinach mixture, spreading it out but not squashing or compacting it “ it should be light and fluffy.

Fold the overhanging pieces of filo over the mixture, and then lay the remaining sheets of filo over the top, brushing each layer with melted butter as
before, then brush the top with melted butter. Trim away any excess and tuck the edges loosely into the sides so that there is room for the contents
to rise. Score the top lightly with a sharp knife, and then cook in the oven for 40 min.

Serves 4-6 as a main course

Photography copyright Laura Edwards.

* Parmesan/Parmigiano-Reggiano is made with calf rennet. Can be substituted with a parmesan style hard cheese or vegan dairy free parmesan style cheese.