Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spanakopita (it's not as difficult as you think)

Spanakopita may be hard to spell and hard to say, but it's not as hard to make as I thought.   If you ever folded a paper football or sent a note to your fourth grade crush, you can do this.  

The homemade version has better flavor than any wedding reception banquet appetizer version that I've had.   I've only worked with phyllo dough once before, so I consider myself a novice.  

The nice thing about recipe sharing sites like All Recipies is that you can see comments, suggestions and feedback.   I read through what others said and then made my own adjustments.   I was very happy with the finished product.   Of course, they lasted under 24 hours after taking them to a friend's house for brunch. 

The key thing?  Don't fear the phyllo.   It's just pastry.  It's not out to get you.  
But it is important that you do the following:
  • allow the roll of phyllo to thaw in the fridge so that it's easy to unroll and less likely to break
  • cover the phyllo that you are not actively using with a damp towel
  • lightly brush each sheet of phyllo with melted butter as you layer them
What You Need

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Stone Creek Farmstead chive chevre cheese (I met them and tried their cheese at the Cherry Creek Farmers Market and bought some to enjoy at home.  I would encourage you to find some kind of local cheese just for fun and to support local business - using chevre is optional)
2 eggs
1 generous spoonful of minced garlic (jarred)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 roll of phyllo dough (you probably won't have that many choices in the freezer section of the grocery store - I bought Athens brand and there were two rolls in the package)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (you will be brushing each and every sheet of phyllo dough with butter as you assemble your triangles of awesome)
What You Do
Preheat your oven to 375.   Use silicone mats on your baking sheets to make it easy to clean up. 
I used a large silicone mat to assemble my spanakopita.   It was an easy clean surface - that's what you'll see in orange in the picture below.
Prepare your filling by combining the spinach, cheeses, eggs, garlic and salt into a large bowl. 
Prepare your phyllo station.   Have your dough out, thawed and covered with a damp towel.    Take the first sheet of phyllo and lay it on your counter / silicone mat.    Brush it lightly / gently with the melted butter.   Layer a second sheet of phyllo on the first and brush that sheet with butter.   Layer a third sheet of phyllo on the second and brush that with butter.
Slice this triple layer of phyllo gently with a dinner knife into three long strips (top middle photo shows the first strip).    Each long strip will make one triangle appetizer.    Put one tablespoon of spinach filling at the bottom of the strip.   Fold the right bottom corner up to the left side to create the first triangle (bottom left photo), then keep folding the triangles up until you use all the dough.   Use your "butter brush" to seal the last edge and then spread a little butter on top once it's on the baking sheet.   
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (start checking around 17 or 18 minutes).    Let cool for a few minutes before biting into flaky spinach joy.
You can prepare them in advance and put them in the fridge overnight to bake the next day.  
Now that I'm not afraid of phyllo anymore, I'm thinking about what I should do with the other roll in my freezer.   Suggestions?
Update 11/18/12:  So I was looking at my blog statistics and saw that Athens Foods was one of the referring sites.     There is a link to this post on their "Fillo Recipes, Tips & News" page.   Hooray!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! This is Ashlee from Stone Creek Farmstead! I loved hearing how you used the cheese, I love spanakopita, and I'm so glad it worked in your recipe (which I'm going to try).

Take care, great blog!

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