Monday's Food: Spanakopita---A Lighter Version

Monday, May 18, 2009



I love Spanakopita. I remember growing up as a child looking forward to my grandmother's "pita" each holiday. Mia, my grandmother, was Greek. She prepared large amounts of pita, as she called it, for every occasion. It was delicious.

I remember watching her make it as a child and I made a mental note of her recipe, as she brushed melted butter over layers of phyllo and folded the edges over.

I remember lots and lots of butter...some eggs...probably more butter, too.

Here is a light version of this delicious appetizer. I often make this for dinner, eating a piece of pita with a nice Greek salad.


Ingredients:

1 box of frozen phyllo sheets (16 oz.)
1 box frozen chopped spinach 
1 pound feta
1/2 cup part skim ricotta
Olive oil (you'll be eye-balling this; get a dish to pour it in)
1 egg, beaten
2 T. of fresh, finely chopped dill
1 t. fresh mint, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finley chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped

*Defrost the spinach. As much as I believe that fresh is better, it is not nearly as convenient as using the frozen. I am always in a hurry and this will save time! Drain the liquid from the spinach in a collander. Then take a clean, dry towel and gently press out excess moisture. You want to get as much out as you can.

*Take your phyllo out of the freezer and let sit on the counter to warm up for about 25 minutes.

*In a large bowl, combine crumbled feta, ricotta, onion, garlic, dill and mint. Add the egg and gently stir.

*You have two options. You can do separate layers of spinach and cheese mixture or mix them all together. When I am rushed, I combine them all loosely in my mixing bowl.

*Set aside. You'll now be working with the phyllo, which can sometimes be a bit uncooperative. It is extremely thin and fragile, so take your time with it.

*Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place 6 or 7 layers of phyllo onto the bottom of the cookie sheet. Using a basting brush, brush a liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil over the phyllo layers. 

*Take your filling and place a layer over the sheets of phyllo. 

*Now take about 3-4 sheets of phyllo and put on top of the cheese-spinach mixture.

*Brush this layer with olive oil.

*Repeat layering. 

*Your top layer should be several sheets of phyllo (6 or so is fine; it's not set in stone). Brush again with olive oil.

*Gently fold over the phyllo edges and brush edges with olive oil.

*Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

*Cool and cut into squares or triangles.

ENJOY!


Next time I make my favorite sinfully decadent Greek treat using phyllo--Baklava-- I'll post the recipe. I typically make this yummy one only once or twice a year, but boy is it delicious!
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