This is spanakopita. (These are spanakopitas?)
It’s spinach and feta wrapped up into little phyllo triangles and doused with butter. The phyllo gets golden brown and butter-crispy and shatters into little shards that get all over your clothes that will make people on the street look at you funny if you forget to lint-roll yourself before leaving home.
I always forget that I know how to make spanakopita. I make a batch, enjoy it thoroughly, then forget about it until something reminds me of it and makes me crave it. This time it was Middlesex, which I’ve been re-reading, and its mentions of the Greek spread at the Stephanides family table.
I know spanakopita seems difficult to make, but it’s actually a very simple recipe, if a bit fiddly. It’s also another one of those convenient little appetizers that freezes willingly, waiting for company to drop by and be impressed.
Adapted from Gourmet.
Makes 30 pastries.
2 pounds cooked spinach or frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
10 sheets phyllo dough
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
Heat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Place the spinach in a sieve or colander and squeeze until as dry as possible. Chop coarsely, then mix in the feta and nutmeg.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel over the stack of phyllo sheets. Work with only one sheet at a time, replacing the plastic wrap and towel to keep the phyllo from drying out.
Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it on a smooth working surface. Brush the entire sheet evenly with butter and top with another sheet of phyllo and another layer of butter. Cut the buttered phyllo stack into six strips width-wise. Each strip should be about 12″ x 2 3/4″.
Place a heaping teaspoon of the spinach filling on the bottom left corner of each phyllo strip. Fold the corner over to make a right triangle-shaped packet, then continue folding the pastry up the strip of phyllo as if you were folding a flag, keeping the right triangle shape. Place the pastry, seam side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush each pastry with more melted butter. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo and filling.
Bake the pastries until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
This is just a basic recipe; feel free to use any greens or mix-ins you like. Spinach and feta is traditional, but collard greens and bacon, or kale and comté, or even broccoli and cheddar, would be delicious.
These pastries freeze well. Form the pastries, place them on a baking sheet, and freeze them flat before transferring to a zip-top bag. Pull out as many pastries as you’d like to make at a time and bake as directed above, perhaps adding a couple minutes to the bake time.
Music to cook by: Disparate Youth [Santigold // Disparate Youth]