• Spanikopita

Spanikopita Bites

Spanikopita bites. Flaky, delicate crunchy bites of phyllo pastry stuffed with loads of spinach and creamy feta cheese.  That’s the Spanikopita we all dream about biting into, right?  The traditional Spanikopita is made with phyllo dough that is buttered and layered then stuffed with a spinach and onion mixture and Greek feta cheese then topped with more buttery phyllo. It usually is assembled in the shape of a pie or in a large 9 x 13 in baking dish and then baked and cut into large squares and served warm or at room temperature.  I even know some people who prefer it cold!  But any way you slice it this traditional Greek recipe has lasted the test of time for a reason.  It’s delicious and something that once you start eating keep craving but you don’t know why.  Try it – you’ll see.  Can’t keep that fridge door closed.

Since I have recently rediscovered my own love of all things Greek and decided to try to take the traditional Spanikopita recipe and make it into more of an appetizer style dish without straying from the flavors that work so well.  So instead of layering the phyllo into the pan and then adding the spinach filling and topping with the phyllo I just cut the phyllo into thirds and brushed two sheets with butter and then stuffed with the spinach mixture and rolled it up like an egg roll, tucking the ends in as I rolled it to keep it tight.  After I baked it I cut the ends off (and ate them) then sliced the rolls on the diagonal to serve.  They were the perfect bite size for a party.   I don’t know about you but I’m always looking for a good party appetizer and this one will be in my lineup. I served it along with a homemade Tzatziki dip made from Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon zest and juice, garlic, dill, paprika, and olive oil.  I went the blended method but there are other ways to make it.  Find your favorite but I definitely recommend a dipping sauce for this app. It’s a good centerpiece to the dish and adds another layer of flavor. And store bought Tzatziki is fine, too!  There are a lot of good ones out there.

*One note: Don’t skimp on the filling.  There were a few that could have used a little more filling and they weren’t quite as good as the ones I stuffed a little bit more.  It’s fine line – you don’t want the delicate phyllo dough to tear but you want to really taste that spinach and feta.  You’ll get the hang of it after a few.

Here’s the step by step on how to make and assemble.  It’s really easy once you get going.

  1.  Line up your ingredients and make sure you defrost your spinach and your phyllo dough is defrosted according to the package instructions.  Typically the dough does best if put in the fridge (not unwrapped) 24 hours in advance.  Preheat oven to 350.
Spanikopita Bites

Ingredients for Spanikopita Bites

2. Finely chop the onion and set aside.

Diced Onions

Diced Onions

3.  Finely chop the shallots and set aside.

Diced Shallots

Diced Shallots

4.  Finely dice the garlic and set aside.

Diced garlic

Diced garlic

5.  Roughly chop the dill and set aside.

Fresh dill, Spanikopita

Fresh chopped dill

6.  Remove the cheese from the brine and roughly crumble and set aside.

spanikopita bites

Fresh Greek Feta Cheese

7.  Set thawed spinach over a bowl in a sieve.

Spinach, Spanikopita

Drain the thawed spinach

8.  Press down on the spinach using paper towels to drain off as much moisture as possible.

spanikopita

Press spinach with a paper towel to remove moisture

9.  In a saute pan heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and, when hot, add in the onions and shallots and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Spanikopita bites

Saute the onion and shallot

10.  After 3 or 4 minutes add the garlic and stir so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Cook for 1-2 minutes more until veggies are just softened.

add the garlic, spanikopita

Add the garlic to the pan

11.  Remove the softened onion and garlic mixture from the heat and place in a large bowl.

Cook onion mixture

Cooked onion, shallot, and garlic

12.  Add in the eggs, spinach, dill, and season well with salt and pepper.  Mix to combine.

Spinach mixture, Spanikopita

Add eggs to onion and spinach mixture

13.  Add the roughly crumbled feta and stir to combine.

Spinach mixture, Spanikopita

Add feta cheese to the spinach mixture

14. Cut the phyllo dough into thirds and cover the sheets with a barely dampened towel to keep them from drying out until you are using them.  Phyllo dries out quickly so keep covered and do this step only when you are ready to roll.  You won’t use the whole package of phyllo for this recipe.

Cut phyllo dough

Cut phyllo dough into thirds

15.  Brush 2 sheet pans lightly with oil.  I used olive oil.  One pan will be your work space and the other is to put the assembled Spanikopita rolls ups on.  If you don’t use a greased work space the dough will tear so this just makes it easier.

Brush the sheet pans with olive oil

Brush the sheet pans with olive oil

16.  Take one of the sheets (already cut into thirds) and lie in the sheet pan.  Brush with melted butter and olive oil mixture and then layer a second piece of phyllo on top of that one and brush that piece as well.

Spanikopita, phyllo dough

Two sheets of phyllo dough brushed with butter

17.  Add a good scoop of the filling to the dough but leave some room at the edges.

Add filling to phyllo dough

Add filling to phyllo dough

18.  Then roll the dough up tightly and tuck in the edges in as you go.  It should resemble an egg roll.  Continue until all the filling is gone.

Spanikopita

Roll into an egg roll shape

19.  Lined up and ready for the oven.  Using a sharp paring knife cut two diagonal slits in each roll to release steam when baking.  Bake on 350 for about 45 -55 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  Ovens vary so will cook times.

Spanikopita Bites

Spanikopita Bites ready for the oven

20.  Remove and place on a cutting board.

baked Spanikopita

Baked Spanikopita bites

21.  Cut the ends off and serve with Tzatziki sauce.

Cut ends off

Cut ends of Spanikopita rolls

 

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Spanikopita Bites

Prep Time: 15 mins *plus defrost time
Bake Time: 45 mins
Serves: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 16 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 12 oz Greek feta cheese
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 package Phyllo dough, defrosted 24 hours in advance
  • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large saute pan heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and cook the onions and shallot together for 3-4 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Then add the garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes and remove from heat into a large bowl.
  2. Press down on the spinach to make sure all of the juices are removed and add the spinach, eggs, dill, salt and pepper to the onion and garlic mixture. Combine.
  3. Add in the crumbled feta cheese and mix to combine.
  4. Brush two sheet pans with olive oil and set aside. Combine the remaining 4 Tablespoons of olive oil and 4 Tablespoons of butter and melt together.
  5. Cut the phyllo dough into thirds and lay a lightly dampened towel across them when not using. Air will quickly dry them out.
  6. Lay one sheet (from the stack already cut into thirds) on a greased baking sheet and brush with the olive oil/butter mixture. Stack one more phyllo sheet on top and do the same. Add a heaping Tablespoon or more of the spinach mixture and roll into an egg roll shape, tucking in the ends as you go. Continue until all the mixture is gone.
  7. Cut two slices into the dough, on a diagonal, to let the steam escape and then cook until crisp and browned - approximately 45 minutes.
  8. Cut the ends off each roll and slice in half and serve with Tzatziki sauce with warm or at room temperature.

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