Spanakopita(s)

November 22, 2009

Knowledge is the food of the soul.
~Plato

Some purists firmly claim they should be called spanakopitakia.

Having made too many of these classic, delicate Greek fingerlings one day I felt obliged to share. Although spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα) prep is time consuming, once done, you can hide a bag of these delectable deltas in the freezer. When you yearn a last minute or midnight meal, simply brush them with melted butter and slip them in the oven.

SPANAKOPITA

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, peeled and minced
1 lb fresh spinach, washed, drained, well dried and coarsely chopped
2 T fresh mint, coarsely chopped
2 C feta cheese
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature

16 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen

8 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 F

Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over moderate heat, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until transluscent. Then cook the spinach, stirring, until wilted and tender, usually about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat and cool, about 10 minutes. Squeeze spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, drain, dry, then coarsely chop. Transfer to a bowl and stir in mint, feta, nutmeg, salt and pepper and then incorporate the beaten egg.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan, then cool to room temperature and set aside.

Cover phyllo stack with a dampened tea towel.

Gingerly peel one phyllo sheet from stack, arrange on a work surface long ways and brush with some butter down the length of the sheet on one side. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling at end closest to you, and then fold sheet in half lengthwise. Begin folding into triangle (like a flag) brushing with butter after each fold.

Put triangle, seam side down, on a large baking sheet and brush top with butter. Repeat in the same manner, using all of phyllo.

Bake triangles in middle of oven until golden brown, 15-20 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

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