What could be better than spanakopita-- spinach, onion, and feta seasoned with lemon and dill and wrapped in buttery layers of phyllo? Finger food sized spanakopita. The triangles have the clear advantage of a higher flaky phyllo to tasty filling ratio compared to the pie. I used to regularly make the pie, but haven't made it in years because it is far too big for 2 people.
After tonight, I can say with confidence that spanakopita is my new favorite cocktail party app, as in the kind you eat not the iPhone variety. For good measure, I also decided to try Smitten Kitchen's fabulous caramelized onion goat cheese triangles. The flavors and textures are incredible-- sweet onions, tangy creamy goat cheese, spicy dijon, and crunchy sweet fennel seeds.
If you've never worked with phyllo before, the recipes may be time consuming. Trust me, both recipes are well worth the effort. As a child, I used to help my mom make her famous baklava out of layers of buttered phyllo. My job was to cover and uncover the phyllo while she assembled the divinely rich layers. Anyway, once you get comfortable with phyllo, you start to move faster and there's less risk of the phyllo drying out.
6 oz fresh baby spinach
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 green onions, both green and white parts sliced
1 heaping tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
3 oz crumbled feta
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
2 + 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sheets of phyllo, thaw package overnight in refrigerator or 6 hours at room temperature
Heat 1/2 tbsp butter on medium heat. When butter starts to foam, add garlic and green onion. Cook for 1 minute. Add spinach and turn until starts to wilt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 more minutes. Set aside and let cool.
Cooked spinach has a lot of liquid, and you want to get rid of as much of it as possible otherwise the phyllo will be soggy. Drain liquid from spinach using a fine mesh colander or cheese cloth and squeezing out the liquid. Chop coarsely. Transfer to bowl, add feta, dill, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Assemble Phyllo triangles
Melt 2 tbsp of butter in small saucepan. Remove one sheet of phyllo and lay flat on large cutting board. Keep remaining sheets covered by a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel or by plastic wrap while not in use otherwise phyllo will dry out and tear. Brush sheet lightly with melted butter. Place one more phyllo sheet on top and brush lightly with butter. Using a sharp knife cut stack crosswise into 6 equally wide strips.
Place one tablespoon of mixture in bottom right corner of one strip. Gently fold over to make a closed triangle. Continue folding triangle up and over (like a flag) until reach top of strip. Brush triangle lightly with butter. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Repeat until all of the filling is used.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet before serving.
Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 oz goat cheese
1.5 tsp dijon
3/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 phyllo sheets, thawed
Heat olive oil on medium heat. Add fennel seeds and let slightly brown. Add onion, stirring to completely coat. Stir in 3/4 tsp salt and generous black pepper. Turn heat down to medium-low. Continue to cook onion until soft and light in color, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Transfer to bowl and mix in goat cheese and dijon. Assemble Phyllo triangles as described above.