Sunday, 18 March 2012

Spanakopita, Spinach, mint and feta pastries

These little greek spinach, mint and feta pastries were a first for me yesterday. Thankfully Rachel was on hand to get the rolling part right. My first attempt ended up looking more like a spring roll. They were fiddly to make, not difficult, just a bit time consuming, so not an ideal starter if you have time restrictions. I think they could have done with more feta in them and a little less mint. They looked great and we made them in advance and kept them in the fridge until we were ready to cook them. I brushed the tops with the melted butter just before they went in the oven. I made some Tzatziki to dip them in. This recipe is from Rick Stein's "Mediterranean Escapes".

Makes about 18
500g spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
half a small onion, chopped
100g Greek feta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of finely grated parmesan
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh mint
250-275 packet of filo pastry, about 6 sheets
100g butter, melted
salt and pepper

Wash the spinach and remove the large stalks and dry. Shred the leaves. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion until soft but not browned. Add the spinach a handful at a time, until it has all wilted down. Tip into a colander and drain, press out all the excess liquid, then return to the pan with the spring onions and cook for one minute.
Crumble the feta cheese into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork to remove any large lumps but leave it a bit chunky. Mix in the eggs, grated cheese, spinach, nutmeg, mint and salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Unroll the sheets of filo pastry and cut the stack lengthways into strips 7.5cm wide. (This will give you 3 strips with about 6 pieces in each stack). Brush the top layer with melted butter. Place a heaped teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of one strip, at the end nearest to you.  Fold one bottom corner of the pastry diagonally over the filling, so the corner touches the opposite side to make a triangle. Then fold over the filled triangular corner and continue folding it alond the whole strip into a triangular parcel. Repeat to make all the spanakoptia.
Brush the undersides of each one with more butter and place on a lighly buttered baking tray. Brush the tops with butter and bake for 25 minutes until crisp and richly golden brown. Serve while the pastry is hot and crisp.

If I hadn't seen these being made on a food programme a couple of weeks ago I may not have attempted them.  The folding part of the recipe is quite confusing. It may take a couple if attempts to get right.  Have a look at this video which shows the assembling part really clearly. 

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