I feared phyllo dough.
It was an irrational fear.
Now it is a fear I have conquered.
My first attempt at phyllo dough, at least my first attempt int he last 8 years or so, was on a goat cheese pizza. Which was INSANELY delicious!!! I had leftover phyllo from it and I have been wanting to make spanakopita for a long time. But because of my fear of phyllo, I never did.
I browsed some recipes and decided that since Ina made it, so can I. Every time I make one of her recipes, it’s a success. Only potential problem, I was going to heavily modify hers and who knew what that could lead to. However, it led to great things, brilliant, beautiful, delicious things.
These are big enough to serve with a salad for dinner, but small enough to serve as appetizers. You can make them smaller too, just divide the dough into 4 long pieces. They will be 2 bite appetizers at that point.
And how do they taste? Fantastic! I love the creaminess of the ricotta mixed with the crunchiness of the phyllo shell. The onions and herbs aren’t overpowering, they add just enough flavor to compliment the rest of the ingredients. In fact, next time, I might double the herbs, just to kick it up a bit. Garlic, don’t skimp on the garlic. Double or triple it if you love garlic! But doesn’t that always go without saying? You can use melted butter instead of the pam, but the pam lowers the fat, and they aren’t lacking any flavor.
A few tips:
1. While working with phyllo, keep a damp paper towel covering the sheets. If the phyllo gets dry it cracks, crumbles and breaks. But if they are too moist, they are sticky and kinda ‘melt.’ This is why people fear phyllo, because it is somewhat delicate. But just run a paper towel under water, ring it out, and place it over the phyllo sheets. You are moving quickly, so they towel doesn’t have time to get the phyllo moist enough.
2, You can make these the day before and just store them on the baking sheet, covered in plastic wrap, until you are ready to bake. Just bake according to the normal instructions.
3. Make them ahead of time and freeze them before baking. Just store them in a ziplock bag, nothing fancy. Bake the frozen spanikopita at 375 for about 45 minutes.
4. After you bake them, if you have leftovers, store them in the fridge and reheat them in the oven at 375 for about 15-20 minutes. I sprinkled parmesan cheese on top of mine to kinda spruce up the leftovers. But you don’t have to. They were perfect reheated too.
Makes 8 triangles
1 tbsp good olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion (1/2 of an onion)
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (16-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided (you’ll use it in the spinach and for the phyllo)
3 tbsp plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted (min were the size of sheets of paper)
Sea Salt, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and scallions, and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.
*I say gently, but I had to press the heck out of it to get all the water out. The spinach isn’t fragile, so SQUEEZE that water out!
When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the drained/thawed spinach. Mix in the eggs, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the ricotta.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. spray the dough lightly with nonstick spray and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of parmesan cheese. Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, spray with pam, and sprinkle lightly with parmesan. (Use just enough parmesan so the layers of phyllo don’t stick together.) Pile 3 layers total on top of each other this way, spraying each layer with pam and sprinkling with parmesan.
Cut the layered sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag.
Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again.
Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. 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 sides down. Spray with pam, sprinkle with flaked salt, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp. Serve hot.