Spinach and aubergine spiral

I find that eating out is great inspiration for my own cooking, giving me new ideas for how to cook and present food or combine flavours in ways I wouldn’t think of on my own. I enjoy trying to reverse engineer things I try in restaurants, wondering how they’ve got a particular effect, what the hidden ingredients are and how I might be able to do something similar at home.  This recipe is inspired by a combination of two different dishes.  When I was 14 or 15 we went on a family holiday to the Greek Island of Skopelos where the local supermarket sold beautiful big spiral pastries stuffed with feta cheese and spinach.  I was enchanted by their wonderful snake like coils and thought it was an eye catching way to present food.  I tried the other dish in a less exotic setting:  it was a delicious spicy veggie wrap in a pub near where I work. I loved the bold flavours and the way that the crispy outside contrasted with the smooth silky vegetables inside. I wanted to make a quick and easy version of the wrap so used spring roll wrappers (which you can usually buy from oriental supermarkets) to enclose the filling. These are similar to filo pastry, which reminded me of the Greek spiral pastries and I thought that would be a striking way to present the finished dish.

Spinach and aubergine spiral

Cooking time: 20 minutes preparation, 20-30 minutes baking

Dietary info: vegetarian, vegan if you use vegan spring roll wrappers

Serves: 3-4

  • About 10 large spring roll wrappers (basically enough to contain all the filling so it depends what ratio of wrapper to filling you like) – if you can’t find spring roll wrappers use filo pastry instead
  • 1 aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 6 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 packet of spinach, about 250-300g
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (note: you can replace the cumin and coriander seeds with ground cumin and coriander if you don’t like the whole seeds)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (smoked chilli powder or chipotle chilli powder if you can find it)
  • ½ tsp asafoetida (of you can’t find asafoetida then use 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube or scant tbsp veggie bouillon powder mixed to smooth with 1-2 tbsp hot water (dairy free if you want to make this dairy free/ vegan)
  • Salt and lemon juice to season
  1. Put the aubergine, tomatoes, onion and spinach in a frying pan with about 50ml water to stop it sticking and put the lid on until the spinach has wilted to make it easier to stir together.
  2. Stir the vegetables together and add the spices and stock.
  3. Put the lid back on and cook until the vegetables are soft and the tomatoes have broken down enough to form a thick sauce – check and stir occasionally and add more water if the pan is looking too dry and take the lid off if it is looking too watery – it should be a juicy mixture that does not stick to the pan but is also not sitting in excess water. Season to taste with the salt, and a dash of lemon.
  4. Spearate 2 spring roll wrappers at a time and lay out on a clean surface in a line, overlapping the sets of 2 spring roll wrappers by about 1.5-2 cm to create a rectangle, one wrapper wide and 5 wrappers long. (see the pictures below to see the stages described and click on the pictures to see the full captions)
    • Place the filling in a line about 4 cm from the lower edge of the rectangle, leaving about 3-4 cm of wrapper uncovered at each end.
    • Fold the ends over then fold the bottom edge up to cover the filling, then carefully roll the filling up in the spring roll wrapper until you have a long cylinder.
    • Start at one end of the cyclinder and gently tuck in the end and start rolling it up into the rest of the cylinder until you have a complete spiral.
  5. Carefully put the spiral onto a non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven at 180C fan for 20-30 minutes until the outside is golden brown.
  6. Serve with salad, and lemon juice or the tomato sauce below on the side.


20170129_190441


A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the filling and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • You can try to make the spiral a night or two ahead and keep it in the fridge until you bake it but I prefer making it on the night so that the spring roll wrappers don’t get soggy.
  • If you are serving it with the sauce below, you can make that and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Some tasty little twists and extras…

If you don’t like the idea of a spiral you can present this dish as separate wraps:

  1. separate 2 spring roll wrappers at a time, out on a baking tray covered in a non stick sheet or baking parchment.
  2. Fill with 2-4tbsp filling and wrap up in your preferred style. Options include:
    • put the filling in the middle and pull all the edges in, scrunching them together at the top to form a dumpling shape;
    • put the filling in one side and fold along the diagonal to make a triangle shape like a turnover, sticking the edges together with a little water, or do similar but fold into a rectangle;
    • put the filling along the length of the wrappers in a line, fold the ends over to contain it then roll up like a spring roll.
  3. put all the parcels on a baking tray and bake at 180C fan for 10-15 minutes until the parcels are crispy on the outside.

Whether you make a spiral or parcels, this spicy tomato sauce makes a good accompaniment and is incredibly simple to make – basically just combining the same spices as are used in the spiral with passata, stock and seasoning.

20170129_190902

Simple spicy tomato sauce

  • 1 packet passata (~500ml)
  • tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (note: you can replace the cumin and coriander seeds with ground cumin and coriander if you don’t like the whole seeds)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (smoked chilli powder or chipotle chilli powder if you can find it)
  • ½ tsp asafoetida (of you can’t find asafoetida then use 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 veggie stock cube or scant tbsp veggie bouillon powder mixed to smooth with 1-2 tbsp hot water (dairy free if you want to make this dairy free/ vegan)
  • Salt and lemon juice to season
  1. Mix the passata with the spices, stock and seasoning and heat through for 3 minutes in a saucepan, stirring until it is all combined or microwave for 3 minutes, stirring half way through.
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