Aired April 10, 2008
4 beef tenderloin medallions (each about 6 to 8 ounces and no more than 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick)
Salt and pepper
1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 pound spinach, woody stems removed and chopped
A few grates fresh nutmeg, to taste
3/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
1 package (minimum of 24 sheets) store-bought phyllo dough
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 pound orzo
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 English cucumber, cut into quarters lengthwise then into bite-size pieces
3 plum tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
5 to 6 pepperoncini peppers, drained and roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Take the meat out of the fridge and bring up to room temperature. Preheat oven to 425F and place a pot of salted water over high heat to boil for the orzo.
Place a large, stainless steel skillet over high heat. Drizzle EVOO sparingly over the meat and season both sides with salt and ground black pepper. Sear them in the hot pan until golden brown all over, about 1-2 minutes for the top and bottom plus another minute for the sides. Reserve the seared meat on a plate and place the skillet back on the heat.
Reduce the heat under the pan a little, give the skillet another turn of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon, and add in the onion and garlic. Cook onions until tender, 5-6 minutes, then add in the spinach. Toss the spinach with a pair of tongs until it has wilted down, 3-4 minutes, then season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove the greens from the heat and reserve.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the feta cheese, milk and oregano and give it a zap to puree smooth. Reserve.
Lay down a sheet of phyllo dough, dot it with melted butter and lay another sheet of phyllo on top rotated slightly clockwise. The corners should not line up. Each toga wrap should start out resembling a star pattern, layering multiple sheets slightly askew from the last. Brush the new layer with some melted butter and continue this process of layering rotated sheets of phyllo until you've put down four sheets. Repeat with the remaining phyllo until you have 4 separate togas.
When the meat is back to room temperature and you can handle it, place the beef medallions on a phyllo toga, topping each with a generous spoonful of cheese mixture and some spinach. Give the edges a brush of melted butter then gather them up and wrap the dough around the meat, pinching together at the center. Transfer the toga-wrapped beef pockets to a baking sheet, pop them into the oven and back until the dough is golden brown, 12-15 minutes.
While the pockets are baking, salt the boiling water and drop in the orzo. Cook to al dente.
Return the skillet you cooked the greens in to the stove over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Toss the scallions into the pan and cook until tender, 2 minutes, then remove pan from heat.
Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the scallions. Add the parsley and pine nuts to the pan and give it a good mix.
To a mixing bowl, add the cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, olives and pepperoncini. Toss with the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons EVOO. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve beef togas with a side of orzo topped with a scoop of cold, bright salad.