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Artichoke Spanakopitta with Za’atar

Boston star Ana Sortun of Oleana uses Turkish and Eastern Mediterranean spices to produce food described by The New York Times as ‘rustic-traditional and deeply inventive’. She insists that traditional spice blends can make our food rich,exciting, satisfying, comforting and provocative without the need for butter or cream.

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  • 900g of spinach, large stems removed and washed

  • 1 bulb of fennel

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, minced

  • 2 spring onions, minced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 1 tsp of ouzo or raki (optional)

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 egg

  • ½ cup feta

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 24 baby artichokes (canned or marinated)

  • juice of one lemon

  • 2 tbsp Jordanian za’atar mixed with 2 tbsp

  • extra virgin olive oil


  • 1.

    Bring 4½ litres of water to a boil. Add salt to taste. Add spinach and cook until wilted and tender, about three minutes. Drain and set in a bowl of ice water to shock and cool quickly. Drain again and squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands. It works best by squeezing small amounts at a time. Roughly chop the spinach and set aside.

  • 2.

    Trim the long fronds from the fennel and remove outer tough layer. Cut in quarters and remove the core. Slice the fennel lengthwise and then chop to a fine dice.

  • 3.

    In a medium skillet, heat two tablespoon olive oil and add onion and fennel. Cook for about four minutes on low-medium heat until onion is translucent. Stir in 3/4 of the garlic and all the spinach and cook for five minutes more.

  • 4.

    Place in a mixing bowl and stir in dill, spring onions and ouzo.

  • 5.

    Using a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree the feta, egg and yogurt. Stir into spinach mixture and season to taste.

  • 6.

    Prepare the artichokes by trimming them of the first outer layer and splitting them in half. Remove the choke and place them in a pot of cold water with the juice of one lemon.

  • 7.

    Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender when poked with a skewer or paring knife.

  • 8.

    Drain and cool. Season the artichokes with salt and pepper to taste and line them cut side up on a heavy baking sheet. Fill each art choke half with a heaping teaspoon of filling and pop them under the grill for three minutes or so until bubbly and hot.

  • 9.

    Cool slightly and spoon on a half teaspoon of za’atar mixture.

  • 10.

    Serve immediately.

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