Spanakopita. Say it. Span-eee-kooo-peee-tah. This delightful little Greek finger food packs a mean punch when it comes to flavor. The word spanakopita literally means spinach pie. You can buy them frozen and just pop them into the oven but they are oh so much better when made from scratch. So you can make them and freeze them yourself! I don’t usually see them with artichokes mixed into the spinach and feta filling but we all know that’s a delicious combination, so I threw them in.
The phyllo dough used to wrap them in, can be slightly difficult to work with if you’re not careful. It has to be just the right temperature between frozen and too warm, or the dough will become fragile and break up or dry out. If your dough breaks, simply grab two ends, moisten very lightly with water and press them together. Voila!
Once you master the triangle or paper football shape we used to make as kids, you can play around with ingredients and stuff the phyllo with bits of cooked potato, onion, bacon and cheese or maybe a little lean ground turkey with raisins, pine nuts and curry powder. The sky is the limit when it comes to the variety of things you can make with phyllo, but let’s try this classic Greek pocket full of goodness first.
2 boxes frozen, chopped spinach – thawed. (Or a bushel full of fresh spinach, cooked down, drained and stems removed) I vote for the boxed stuff.
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 sweet onion, small dice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 box phyllo dough, thawed but still cold
- ½ stick butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of water
How to Make It!
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan and sauté the garlic and onion until the onion is translucent. Thaw the frozen spinach and once done, squeeze out all excess moisture or the end result will be soggy little pockets of goo. If using fresh spinach, remove all excess moisture after cooking. Add the spinach, nutmeg, artichokes, salt and pepper to the garlic and onion and heat through, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat, pour the mixture into a bowl and place in the fridge or freezer to allow it to cool (but don’t freeze it). Add the feta and two eggs and stir to combine. Unfold the phyllo dough and gently cut into 4” strips. Lightly brush each strip with butter, one at a time as you use them. This helps the dough become crisp and flaky.
Take care to use a quality brush, as I’ve seen some that leave little bristles all over the food. Place the finished packets in a buttered baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen pastries.