A Healthier Spanakopita (Greek Style Spinach and Feta Mini Light Pies)

 A healthier Spanakopita – more spinach, less oil and dough

A healthier Spanakopita – more spinach, less oil and dough

Spanakopita is a Greek favorite. Mine uses olive oil – but not too much of it – and is filling (fresh spinach) rich, and with just enough pastry to hold the greens in a pretty, crunchy, delicious package.

Filo, or phillo (leaf in Greek) is a very thin unleavened dough, that even Greek grandmothers don't make themselves, so it's certainly something you should feel comfortable buying. I like the Organic filo sold in many natural markets, and make sure there are no preservatives and additives in the ingredient list of any I buy.

Even if you aren't a visual learner, do yourself a favor and look at my photos. It's much easier to show how to fold these triangles than to explain it in words. Seriously, this isn't a difficult undertaking. 

I've also found that spanakopita (and filo pasty in general) turns out better if it spends some time in the fridge before it's baked, so I usually prepare the dish a few hours before the meal, and bake it right before it's served.

 Spinach, onion, filo, garlic, olive oil and feta

Spinach, onion, filo, garlic, olive oil and feta

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus plenty more olive oil for brushing filo
  • 1 big box baby spinach (1 pound)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ pound crumbled feta cheese 
  • 1 egg
  • Filo dough, thawed (follow the instructions on the pack)

Preparation:

 Wilt baby spinach, do not overcook!

Wilt baby spinach, do not overcook!

  • In a large pot, over medium high heat, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent and aromatic.
  • Add the spinach, cook while stirring until wilted – 2minutes or so –  remove from heat and drain in a colander to remove extra fluids. Let spinach cool,
  • Move the spinach to a bowl, add the garlic, pepper, feta, and egg and combine thoroughly.
  • Prepare your work surface: You'll need a clean dry countertop or large pasty board, space for your filo and a well oiled large baking sheet. Put your olive oil in a bowl or wide cup, with a pastry brush besides it.
  • Open your thawed filo pack, gently unfold the sheets, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Make sure the filo is always covered, to prevent drying.
 Cut filo sheet into two

Cut filo sheet into two

 Fold each rectangle lengthwise

Fold each rectangle lengthwise

 Place spoonful of spinach filling near the edge, in a triangular shape 

Place spoonful of spinach filling near the edge, in a triangular shape 

 Fold filo into a triangle

Fold filo into a triangle

 Continue to fold, like a flag

Continue to fold, like a flag

 Triangle ready for olive oil brushing

Triangle ready for olive oil brushing

 Place your Spanakopita in the fridge until ready to bake

Place your Spanakopita in the fridge until ready to bake

  • Take 1 sheet of filo, place it on the work surface so that the long side of the rectangle is parallel to the counter edge. Cut the sheet into two, lengthwise.
  • Brush the filo with olive oil, and fold each rectangle lengthwise.
  • Put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the corner of the filo strip near you, and shape it like a triangle, then fold the corner to enclose the filling so that a triangle is formed. Continue to fold the filo strip like a flag, maintaining the triangle shape (see photo).
  • Place the triangle on the baking sheet, and brush it on top with olive oil.
  • Repeat until all your filling has been used.
  • Refrigerate the baking pan with the pastries for a few hours, or bake immediately.
  • To bake: preheat oven to 350 °F, bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy! 

Makes 20-24 medium size pastries