Savoring the Seasons: Passed-down recipes highlight spinach

The Greenfield Recorder, May 02, 2017 by Mary McClintock

I love hearing from readers, especially when someone sends me a great story and recipe. Thank you Maryanne Laukaitis from Sunderland for tracking me down and telling me you had a recipe to share.

Here’s what Laukaitis had to say: “Since spinach time is coming up, here is a spinach recipe from Marie of the Athens Restaurant. It has been closed for years. The building is still there, in Montague, near the sand plains. “Jimmy the Greek” and his wife, Marie, were very friendly with customers. My parents would take me there as a kid and they would converse while zipping back and forth to and from the kitchen. Their three-legged dog was always there, too. Marie is the lady pictured on the package of the salad dressing mix you can buy at Foster’s! I’ve sent her recipe for Spanikopita, which she wrote and handed to my Mom probably around 1968. I’ve made this recipe quite few times and it goes over well for a picnic. It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator and you can carry it for lunch easily. I suppose you can add garlic if you like or substitute some other greens in there with spinach, too — say dandelion or Swiss chard if you’re daring!”

I never went to that restaurant, but it sounds like a great, friendly place. Does anyone else remember going there or know Marie’s last name? I want to find the salad dressing mix at Foster’s.

I love spanikopita! You can get the phyllo dough in the freezer section of many stores. And, trying different greens with it sounds intriguing, too.

Last Saturday, after Laukaitis had shared her childhood memory of spinach, I bought some spinach from Lyonsville Farm at the Greenfield Farmers Market. Then, I saw the Bostrom Farm sign at the market that listed ground beef and I thought, “Spinach and ground beef. Of course, it’s time for some Joe’s Special!” I told Natty at the Bostrom Farm booth about Joe’s Special and he didn’t remember seeing the recipe when I included it in past columns. I’m not sure if Joe wrote out the Joe’s Special recipe for my mother, like Marie did for Laukaitis’ mother, but I love passing along recipes cherished by our mothers.

This Week We’re Eating …

Spanikopita (Spinach Pie): By Marie, Athens Restaurant, Montague, circa 1968 (shared by Maryanne Laukaitis, Sunderland)


1 C. chopped onions

¼ C. oil

2 lbs. chopped spinach

1 C. cottage cheese

1 C. Greek cheese (feta)

½ t. salt

½ t. pepper

½ t. M.S.G. (optional)


Saute onions until golden in oil. Add spinach and saute together until spinach is well wilted. Remove from fire and add the rest of ingredients. Mix well. In baking pan, spread 3 layers phyllo, butter it and add 1 layer of mixture, 2 layers of phyllo and 1 layer of mixture, 2 layers of phyllo and butter top. Bake at 350 degrees oven until golden. Cut in squares and let set 15 minutes.

Joe’s Special: By Mary McClintock (learned from her mother, Betsy, who learned it from Original Joe’s Restaurant in San Francisco)


Saute chopped onion in oil in a cast iron frying pan until translucent. Add ground beef (or ground turkey). Cook meat until browned, breaking up with a spoon. Drain off any excess fat. Add chopped fresh spinach and cook for a minute or so until limp. Add 3 large eggs, lightly beaten with basil and thyme. Stir and cook until eggs are set. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.