Spanikopita Panini

I moved to Edmonton just under 10 years ago to be closer to the doctors that deal with a lot of my chronic medical stuff. One of the big things I miss from my home town of Regina is the pizza. In Regina, pizza is its own thing. The influx of different cultures adding their own spin to pizza makes for an eclectic mix to put it mildly. One of my favourites was from a Greek run family place that does a spinach and feta pizza. But it’s not just spinach and feta lumped haphazardly over the crust. It’s as if they take the filling from the Greek appetizer, spanikopita, and spread it over the entire surface.

I’ve tweaked my own mix that mimicks that nostagic flavour to me and have done it on my own pizza before. I thought, because the greens are so beautiful right now, I’d do a mix of them instead of spinach. Greens like kale, radish tops, arugula all add a deeper flavour to the mix and make for one hell of a sandwich. And memories of the home of my younger days. A sandwich that strips away the complexities that life wants to throw and lets you focus on the happy flavour of home. Enjoy!

Spanikopita Panini

For the Spanikopita Filling:

1 cup fresh rhubarb, roughly chopped

1/2 cup water

2 red finger chillis, stems removed and finely chopped

10 green onions, finely chopped

5 cups packed mixed greens (I used arugula, kale, and radish greens, but beet greens, mustard greens or even just spinach is great), stems finely chopped and the leaves coarsely chopped

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup packed fresh mint, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup plain yogurt

100g/4 oz feta cheese

   In a large pot over medium high heat, add the rhubarb and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Take off the lid, mash the softened rhubarb with the back of a wooden spoon.

   Add the white part of the green onions, the chopped stems of the kale and radish greens and sauté for 4-5 minutes to soften with the rhubarb. Add the leaves of the greens, 1/2 cup of water and cover with the lid again. Wilt the greens for 5-7 minutes. Sometimes if the kale is larger and tougher, it may take another few minutes, but for the most part it wilts rather quickly. Take off the lid and reduce the remaining water over medium high heat (about another 7-9 minutes. Take off the heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

   When the wilted greens have cooled to room temperature, add the green part of the green onions, the yogurt, mint and crumbled feta. Set aside.

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For the Spanikopita Panini:

Prepared Spanikopita Filling

3 ciabatta bread (15cm/6″ x 10cm/4″ in size)

300g/10 oz gruyere cheese, grated

   Cut the ciabatta bread horizontally to open it. Spread some of the cheese and the Spanikopita filling over the bottom half of each ciabatta.

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   Top with the remaining gruyere cheese and the top of the ciabatta bread. Press in a panini press, grill press or in a cast iron pan over medium heat with a foil-wrapped brick pressing it down for 5-7 minutes, or until the exterior is toasty and the cheese is gooey.

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Cut each sandwich in half and serve. Serves 4-6….or one hungry former Regina kid 😉

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