Alaska-style spanakopita includes salmon with the traditional spinach and feta. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaska-style spanakopita includes salmon with the traditional spinach and feta. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

On the Strawberry Patch: Spanakopita — Alaska style

I have been deep cleaning, organizing, rearranging and generally revitalizing our home these last couple weeks

It seems the fairies have finally convinced winter to release the sun from its blue prison.

The warmth has returned, and the misty blue tint to its light has been replaced by fire. Its warmth streams into my house now late into the afternoon, illuminating the dark corners and chasing away the shadows who have nestled there these long dark months.

With each passing day, the glowing tendrils reach farther, revealing those spaces at the edges of the lamplight, where the dust has been allowed to settle, and lost toys have patiently waited to be found. Now is the time to rip out the dusty stacks that have piled up and sweep out the remnants of winter darkness, and maybe even the last few spruce needles from this year’s Christmas tree.

I have been deep cleaning, organizing, rearranging and generally revitalizing our home these last couple weeks.

Finally exposing those neglected corners prompts me to reimagine the space and think creatively about how our home could be more functional, beautiful and enjoyable. This process has been quite empowering, all except for the dreaded pantry, which I still have yet to tackle.

I have the unfortunate habit of quickly abandoning my organizational strategies in that one particular space. The return from the grocery store is often a hectic jumble of snacks for rumbling tummies and cats swerving underfoot, so grocery bags are evacuated with irritation and haste, and often with a doomed declaration that I will circle back to restore order to the madness.

I’ll get to it someday soon, but for now, simply reaching to the back of the shelves to plan my weekly menu will help to start the process.

I had a few jars of home-canned salmon left (a thoughtful gift from my mother-in-law) which I must not allow to expire, and two more boxes of that phyllo dough that deserves to be enjoyed, so I used some of each to make spanakopita — Alaska style.

Ingredients:

One box phyllo

Two cans salmon

One large bag frozen spinach

One 16-ounce block feta cheese

2 sticks unsalted butter — clarified

¼ cup fresh minced dill

Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Allow the spinach to thaw completely, then squeeze as much liquid out as possible before adding to a large mixing bowl.

Crumble the feta into very small pieces. You can use your hands or your knife held flat and scraped against the block.

Mix the spinach, feta and fresh dill until thoroughly combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Drain as much of the liquid off the salmon as possible before adding to the bowl.

Very gently mix. Try not to overmix and make a paste — the final texture will be unpleasant. You want some solid chunks in there, so mix carefully with your hands.

Grease the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan and layer buttered phyllo sheets down, one at a time, until half the box is gone.

Spread your filling in an even layer across the whole pan. Press down slightly and smooth until as flat as possible.

Continue layering buttered phyllo until all but about 10 sheets are left.

Gently crumple those last sheets and arrange them on the top to create a pretty, crunchy topping. You do not need to butter those topping sheets — just place them on top as is.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, dollop of Greek yogurt, and a salad.

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