The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 50 - September 3, 2008

FEATURE

Nicki’s West 59th consistently good

The passage of 22 years would guarantee a tweaking of the recipes, but not at Nicki’s West 59th. This Bradenton restaurant served a fresh spinach stuffed spanakoteropeta with chunks of chicken back then, and it serves a fresh spinach stuffed spanakoteropeta with chunks of chicken now. A generation has grown up, but the spanakoteropeta recipe at Nicki’s stayed exactly the same. If you remember what Nicki’s was like 10 years or even 15 years ago, you know what it’s like today.

And you know that Nicki’s is exactly what you want. A respite from the impatient innovation and trendiness at other restaurants. Especially as September and the tender local spinach that September brings, have arrived. These late days of summer I feel a bit like the cartoon character Popeye "Well, blow me down, I needs my spinach." I long for a plate of Nicki’s spanakoteropeta.

Popeye, who eats out of a can, attributes his amazing strength to a daily diet of the green leafy vegetable. The spinach-chugging sailor, "one tough gazookus which hates all palookas," as his theme song goes, is famous for cuffing Bluto as he tries to muscle his way into Olive Oyl’s heart.

However, Popeye and the cans of spinach that made his tattooed forearms bulge were based on a blunder. A misplaced decimal point in an article written by Dr. E. von Wolf in 1870 about the iron content of spinach led to an iron-content figure that was 10 times too high. Quickly this myth about spinach and the high iron content was publicized. In 1937, German chemists reinvestigated this "miracle vegetable" and corrected the mistake as described by T.J. Hamblin in British Medical Journal in December 1981.

However, the popularity of Popeye and especially spinach has endured. For good reason, as fresh spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color is delicious!

In reality, a 60-gram serving of spinach contains around 1.9 mg of iron. Many green vegetables contain less than 1 mg of iron for an equivalent serving, so comparatively, spinach does contain a relatively high level of iron for a vegetable. However, in terms of its nutritional value (which is the amount of iron actually absorbed by the body) the benefits of spinach have been considerably overstated. However, it is a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folic acid and several vital antioxidants.

Although spinach is available throughout the year the season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest and has the best flavor.

Nicki’s West 59th

1830 59th St. W., Bradenton
795-7065
Hours: Monday through Saturday,
11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Nicki’s West 59th Spanakoteropeta
(Greek spinach and chicken pie)

Ingredients:

1 16-ounce package frozen phillo dough
3 9-ounce bags of fresh spinach, stems removed
3 pounds of crumbled feta cheese
10 eggs
2 large onions, chopped
!/4 c. olive oil
2 tsp. black pepper
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and chopped
Melted butter with a pastry brush

Method:

Cook onions in olive oil until opaque. Mix onions with spinach, feta cheese, eggs, black pepper, dill and chicken

Brush butter in 13-by-9-inch pan and layer phyllo dough sheets, brushing with butter in between each layer, also overlapping the sides of pan. Be sure to leave 3 or 4 sheets to cover the top.

Put the mixed ingredients into the crust and use the reserved sheets to seal the pie.

Bake in 350 degree oven for two hours, turning the pan after one hour.

 


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