Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spanakopita (Greek style spinach triangles)

I love spanakopita! With spinach and feta and phyllo, oh my! Ina Garten had the right idea when she took these traditionally small cocktail snacks and super sized them to make a main course for dinner. I didn't do this with the recipe because I'm bringing these to a brunch, but I mention it because it would be a fabulous idea! I will include instructions on how do either in the recipe section.
It was my friend Danielle's birthday this past Monday and so a couple of the girls are getting together for a brunch in her honor at her house. I don't know a lot of the people coming very well so thankfully there will be mimosas and really good food! If you don't know this about me already, I will just come out and admit that I can be a little socially awkward with people I'm not close with. Not all the time, but sometimes, and a good mimosa will go a long way to counter act it!
For the brunch I will be serving these adorable spanakopita triangles, fruit salad with honey dressing, a raspberry danish braid, blueberry crumb cakes and Angie will be bringing a bacon and goat cheese crust less quiche. Talk about a line up! Iced coffee and mimosas to round everything out and I'd say we have ourselves a par-tay! The menu is a little eclectic, I'll admit but Danielle likes it that way with samplings of different bites...and the day is all about her anyway.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Plain dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups small-diced feta cheese (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts ( I didn't use these)
24 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted (note: you will need two packages)
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
flaked sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Heat the oil in a medium saute pan , add onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.

When the onions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gently fold in the feta and pine nuts.

Place one sheet of phylllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the dough lightly with butter and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs. working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush it with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of phyllo don't stick together.) pile 4 layers total on top of each other this way, brushing each with butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs.

FOR DINNER SIZED SPANAKOPITA: cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo dough up diagonally as if folding a flag. Then fold the triangle of phillo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet.

FOR APPETIZER SIZED SPANAKOPITA: cut the sheets of phyllo into five, long ways so you have 5 long strips of dough. Place a teaspoon or so filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo the same as directed above. 1 box of (18 sheets) of phyllo dough only makes about 20 appetizer triangles and leaves a lot of the filling left over. If you plan to only make this much, half the filling recipe above. Or use the left over filling in eggs, a quiche, a pizza pocket, etc.

The filling should be totally enclosed. Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used. Place on a sheet pan, seam side down. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked sea salt and bake for 30 minutes for dinner size and 15 minutes for appetizer size or until the phyllo is browned and crisp. Serve hot.

Serves 12 dinner sized spanakopita or 20 appetizer spanakopita, if using half the filling recipe. 40 if you use all the filling and 2 packages of phyllo dough.

You can also refrigerate or freeze these, assembled and unbaked in a Ziploc freezer bag and just bake as directed when ready for them. They are so good! I hope you try them out. They are labor intensive but not hard to make at all. Persevere and be rewarded!