A Healthier Spanakopita (Greek Style Spinach and Feta Mini Light Pies)
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
Makes 20-24 medium size pastries