Spanakopita is a kind of börek, aka burek; a savory pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese, onions and egg. No matter where in world it's from or what you call it, this appetizer or hors d'oeuvre is always a winner. And yes, go ahead, eat it with your fingers.
About Filo: excerpt from Know Your Fire cookbook by George Hirsch with Marie Bianco
Filo or phyllo dough is comprised of tissue-thin layers of pastry especially popular in Greek cuisine. They can be used for both sweet and savory dishes. Filo is especially delicate, and once it dries out it becomes brittle and cannot be used. Work with a small portion of filo at a time and keep the rest under a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to keep it moist.
Rarely is a single layer of filo used. As each sheet is brushed with butter, it’s usually sprinkled with fine breadcrumbs or nuts to keep the layers slightly separated.
Filo is sold in Greek markets and in the freezer section of most supermarkets. If you buy frozen filo, it should be defrosted in the refrigerator and used within 2 to 3 days.
Spanakopita is a great make ahead savory. If consumed the same day, cover well and refrigerate until baking - just before serving. If making a couple days ahead, freeze unbaked until before serving. No need to defrost, just increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and bake direct from frozen.
recipe by George Hirsch | Makes 12
12 sheets filo
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drain well*
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, thyme
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablesooon fresh mint, chopped
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup sweet butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
*Place spinach in a wire-mesh strainer or fine colander and squeeze the excess water out of the spinach.
Place egg in a medium bowl. Add sea salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and thyme. Mix in fresh mint, olive oil and lemon juice. Add onion, feta cheese, spinach and mix well until combine. Set aside.
Unwrap the filo dough and cover sheets with plastic wrap while preparing to keep from drying out.
Lay one sheet of filo on a large cutting board and gently brush with melted butter. Sprinkle a small amount of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese between layers. Place a second filo sheet on top of the first and brush with butter. Repeat breadcrumbs and cheese. Repeat one more time until you have a stack of three filo sheets with butter brushed between the layers.
Using a sharp knife or pastry wheel cutter, cut filo sheets lengthwise into three strips. Place approximately two tablespoons of the spinach filling one inch from the bottom end of each strip.
Take the bottom right corner of the strip between your thumb and finger and fold over spinach filling to the left to make a triangle. Gently pull up the bottom left corner and fold up to make a second triangle. Continue folding until you reach the top. Place the triangle, seam-side down, on baking sheet. Brush the completed triangle lightly with melted butter.
Repeat with the remaining strips of filo sheets until the entire filling used.
Place triangles two inches apart on baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.