Friday, February 14, 2014

February Daring Cooks' Challenge - Spanakopita

The February Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Audax of Audax Artifex. The challenge brought us to Greece with a delicious, flaky spanakopita - a spinach pie in a phyllo pastry shell.

I have never made spanakopita before, but have been wanting to for a really, really long time. So I was super excited when this challenge came!

But then reality hit and I wondered how I could make this... daddy isn't eating carbs, so won't eat the phyllo dough portion, little man is allergic to eggs and dairy, making the spinach and feta filling, with egg as a binder, a no-go, and little miss... well... she can be hit or miss with spinach. So as excited as I was about this challenge, I had to be realistic and realize that I was really the only one who would eat it.

So, as close to the spirit of the challenge as I could stay, I made my own mini spanakoptia pockets.

I started with the filling, sauteeing onions, garlic and fresh spinach.

Once the sauteed vegetables cooled, I mixed them with an egg to hold everything together.

The mixture wound up being really wet, so I stirred in about a tablespoon of ground flax, which helped.

And then it was time to assemble.  I took a few sheets of phyllo dough and cut them each into thirds. Each third-of-a-sheet section was then brushed with melted butter and folded in half to make a double layer.  I then put a small scoop of filling on the end of each doubled-over strip of phyllo and sprinkled on a touch of shredded cheddar (which I prefer over feta... inauthentic, but hey...).

I then brushed the rest of the phyllo strip with more butter, then folded up the bottom corner and folded the whole strip up, the way you would a flag, to make little triangle pockets.

Which were then brushed with even more melted butter, before being baked.

But it worked! They were golden and puffy and looked super fun and cute!

And even better than that?

They were super tasty! I ate three as a side dish that night, and they re-heated beautifully the next night (then the following day as lunch!).  I kept offering tastes to little miss, but she refused. Her loss!

And daddy didn't have to fully miss out - I made nine of these little pockets, then took the rest of the filling, added one more egg, and poured it into a few wells of a muffin tin (and then topped them with shredded cheese) to make spanakopita-style baked fritatas that were both carb-free (or darn close...) and super tasty! He ate all three with his dinner and let me know he'd be happy to have me make them again.

Audax, thank you so much for hosting this delicious challenge. I hope to one day make the recipe you provided (you should seriously check it out here!), but had a lot of fun adapting it to these little single-serve triangles.

If you want to see some of the other spanakopitas that were cooked up (beautifully, I might add!) this month, check them out here.

Spanakopita Pockets
(my own interpretation, loosely based on this Food Network recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. fresh spinach leaves (I used a bag of baby spinach)
Salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese (I used cheddar, crumbled feta is what is traditional for spanakopita)
phyllo dough sheets (I used three sheets, cut into thirds, but there was enough filling to make more than this...)
melted butter (didn't measure, but you need plenty - probably a good 3-4 tablespoons, or more for more pockets than I made)

Heat the olive oil in a sautee pan, then add the onions. Sautee onions until translucent, then add the garlic. Sautee for a minute or two (you don't want to burn the garlic),then add the spinach to the pan. Allow the spinach to wilt down. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow filling to cool.
When the filling is cool, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, cover a baking sheet with parchment, melt your butter and prepare your phyllo sheets - I cut each sheet into thrids (by width).
Brush each third-of-a-sheet piece of phyllo with melted butter and fold it in half. Place a scoop of the filling on the edge of the stip of dough and sprinkle on a bit of your shredded cheese. Brush the still-exposed portion of the strip of phyllo dough with more melted butter. Now fold one corner up over the dough to create a point, then fold up and across repeatedly to create a triangle of phyllo-encased filling. Transfer the triangle to the parchment-covered baking sheet and brush the top with more butter.
Continue until you have made as many triangles as you want (or until you have used all of your filling).
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crispy.



  1. Looks delicious! And what a great solution making small packages!

  2. Oh I love the idea of the spanakopita frittata. How clever and creative. I'll have to try that!

  3. I've been wanting to make it for a very long time too. I had it about a year and a half ago in a Greek restaurant. Thanks for sharing this recipe and for the inspiration.


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