Swap-Box Hero: SpanaKohlpita

Judging by end-of-day swap-box contents, kohlrabi—especially the giant Kossaks we see in the colder months—is in the running for our site’s least-loved (most-feared?) CSA item.

Even in high July, after zucchini fatigue has set in, we rarely see a uniform swap box at closing time. But last Tuesday, after all the first-week Winter Season shares had been fetched, we were left with five Clincher®-sized kohlrabies. That’s it. Five. Weighing at least a couple pounds each.

Kossaks
Under their scruffy, broccoli-stem-green exterior lies two+ pounds of snappycrisp ivory flesh that tastes, well, like milder broccoli stem.

You didn’t expect me to just leave them there in the back warehouse, did you? Of course not. I grabbed three and started thinking about new ways to put these homely brassicae to work.

Over my CSA lifetime, I’ve enjoyed raw kohlrabi, shaved or shredded into a salad or slaw); roasted and mashed kohlrabi, either alone or stirred together with cauliflower or carrots or potatoes; and roasted batons of kohlrabi, meant to mimic French fries. I had not, though, ever baked it into a pie.

Now I have. And I will do so again.

So good.
Save this pie a place on your next brunch buffet. Makes a nice, meat-free dinner option, too.
Spana•kohl•pita

A riff on good, ol’ Greek Spinach Pie, with a hat tip to the Times’ Martha Rose Shulman. Her recipe calls for all kohlrabi; I used a mix of kohlrabi and fresh spinach and added scallions, a little nutmeg, and a big squeeze of lemon juice. Serves 8-10. Freezes well, too. In fact, I split the batch in half and tucked one of the unbaked pans away for later.

  • 4 cups shredded kohlrabi
  • 4 cups well-packed fresh spinach (could use frozen, just be sure to wring it dry)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced thin
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 6 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • a few grinds of fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 pound phyllo dough (if using frozen dough, follow the package’s instructions to thaw)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

A note on prep: I’m too short to get much leverage on big, dense, monster veggies like kohlrabies, rutabagas, and harder squashes, so when I “peel” them, I tend to chip away, planing off the outer layers in 2-3″ chunks. The resultant globe—with Buckminster Fuller facets—is ready for further slicing or grating.

Peeled
Once you get the outer layers off, you can cut the kohlrabi into pieces suitable for your food processor or box grater.

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and scallion for 5-6 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and kohlrabi. Season with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently for 10-12 minutes, adding the spinach at about the 8-minute mark. The greens should be nicely wilted (but not completely broken down), and the kohlrabi should be starting to deepen in color. Stir in the nutmeg, dill, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

Herbs
Season to taste, but use a light hand with the salt, since you’ll be adding feta later.

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Combine the remaining olive oil with the melted butter. Prep your pan(s) by brushing them with a light coating of the oil/butter mixture. I used two 5″x7″ Pyrex dishes, but a 10″ square, a deep pie plate, or a tart pan work great, too.

eggs
My pal Kristine’s hens gift us with eggs whose yolks aren’t just yellow, they’re blood-orange orange. Check them out on FB at Full Circle Farmers, LLC.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl large enough to eventually hold all the veggies. Stir in the cheese and lemon juice, then add the kohlrabi-spinach mixture. Set the bowl aside while you deal with the phyllo.

Working quickly (and one pan at a time), line the bottom of the pan with a sheet of phyllo (trim it if you need to, but be sure to leave a couple inches draped over the edges of the pan. Brush the layer with the oil/butter, rotate the pan, add another sheet, brush it, and so on. I used 6 layers for the bottom “crust.”

Ready to load
Here’s an empty pie—6 sheets of phyllo ready to be filled.

Give the kohlrabi-spinach mixture one final stir (you want an even coating of those golden eggs), then spoon it into the phyllo-lined pan. Fold the draped edges back toward the center of the dish. Add 5 more sheets of dough across the top, brushing oil/butter on each layer, including the final one. Use a paring knife to score a few vents in the top of the pie, making sure you pierce all the layers of the top crust.

Raw Pie
Ready for the oven. Or the freezer.

Bake until crisp and golden brown on top—about 50 minutes for a larger-format pan, and 40 minutes for the 5″x7″.

Stowed
Freezer tape and Sharpies—essential tools.

I’m gun-shy about cold glass in a hot oven, so to bake off a frozen portion, I put the pan directly from the freezer into a cold oven, let it come up to temp, and then watch it carefully after half an hour. If you’ve got a metal pan, drop it straight into a pre-heated oven, knowing it’ll likely have to bake 10-15 minutes longer than a fresh pie.

Leftovers reheat well, too, but you’ll want to re-crisp the top in a toaster oven (or regular oven) for a few minutes.

Slice
Serve hot right out of the oven, or warm, or even at room temperature.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I remember the first time we received a kohlrabi in our CSA box. I had to google it to find out what it was and then further research how on earth to eat it. You are right about its having a broccoli-like flavor. I loved it. We roasted them and served them raw, in a slaw-like presentation. I am also like you – I love my NYT recipes!! I pinned the Roasted Batons of Kohlrabi and your recipe, as well. I am excited to try this Spanakohlpita (<– like your play on words!) recipe. I haven't done much work with phyllo dough, but it seems so easy and delicious. Sounds great! …also, I learned what 16" softball is. I would be down for that – I can at least see the ball! 😉 Have a great one, Susan!

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