It's recipe Wednesday! This is something new I am trying - posting a new recipe every Wednesday. The first recipe is for spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie. I love cooking, and I am particularly fond of making appetizers. I love them in any shape or form. After trying numerous recipes for spanakopita, I devised my own, which is a blend of several different recipes. I am pretty sure it is not authentic Greek food, so I am offering my apologies to my Greek friends in advance. I do know that while labor intensive and time consuming, this appetizer never fails to be a huge hit with my friends.
Here are the ingredients, this recipe will make about 60 triangles:
2 (12 oz) packages of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 package phyllo dough, thawed
To begin, take the thawed spinach (frozen spinach is really the way to go on this one), squeeze out all of the water by ringing it out in a clean kitchen towel, and set aside. Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium high heat until translucent (8-12 minutes). Add the garlic, and saute for about 60 seconds. If you burn the garlic, you will need to start over, so keep an eye on it and when it is fragrant, dump in the spinach. Break up the spinach and cook over medium heat for a minute or so, adding salt and pepper as desired. A word of caution - be careful with the salt, as the cheese you will add later will add saltiness to the dish. Stir in the lemon zest and turn off the heat. Set the pan aside to cool.
Once the spinach mixture has cooled, bust out the phyllo dough. I thaw mine in the fridge overnight. When purchasing, I use Athens brand, it is in the freezer section near the frozen pies and ice cream. I have tried store brands, and they just don't work.
Phyllo is very delicate and can be difficult to work with. The most important thing is to work quickly. I also take the plastic wrap it comes in and lay it on top of the sheets covered with a damp tea towel while I am working to keep it from drying out.
Take the cooled spinach and to it add the feta, Parmesan, eggs, and ricotta. Mix well until the feta is incorporated evenly into the spinach.
Lay out one sheet of phyllo, brush with the melted butter, and lay another sheet on top of it. Cut the sheet into thirds, place a half tablespoon of filling at the end of each third, and begin folding. There is no easy way of describing this, so I had my husband video tape it:
I set out a sheet tray lined with parchment or foil, and as I work I lay the triangles on it. At this point you can either bake them right away, or freeze them. I freeze them on a single layer on a sheet tray (or cookie sheet), then toss them into freezer bags for later use. When you are ready, take the frozen triangles and bake them at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until golden. If you are cooking them as you make them, they will take 10-15 minutes. I find that they are at their best when served room temperature, which makes them an easy appetizer to serve at parties. You can cook them ahead of time and set them out, and then use your oven for more time sensitive appetizers. This is one recipe you should definitely try, and don't get discouraged if they aren't perfect the first time - it takes some practice, but these savory spinach pies are worth it!