(Greek Spinach Pies)
Buttery, crispy/flaky and addictive, these require a little practice to get right but are worth the effort. And once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quickly. If this is your first time working with filo (or phyllo if you’re from uptown), start with double the number of sheets listed below in case you run into problems. In time you’ll realize that as delicate as filo is, it is just as reparable. If a sheet tears, overlap the two torn pieces and brush with butter as you normally would.
Makes about 25 individual triangles or pies or one 8 x 8 inch pie
Two 8-ounce bags frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or as needed)
1 bunch scallions (green onions), roots and shabby green parts trimmed, sliced thin (about 1 cup)
½ cup, lightly packed, chopped fresh dill
1 cup crumbled mild and creamy feta cheese (about 5 ounces)
Salt, if necessary
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg, (optional)
1 egg, beaten
6 sheets filo dough or as needed*
With your hands, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. Pour 2 tablespoons of the butter into a medium skillet and place over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté just until sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and dill and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Scrape the spinach mixture into a medium mixing bowl and cool completely.
Stir the feta into the spinach mixture. Taste and add salt, pepper and, if you like, nutmeg to taste. Add the beaten egg and mix in thoroughly. Using the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and the filo sheets, prepare the triangles: For notes on making individual pies or one large pie check this out.
To Make Triangles:
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Uncover the filo sheets and carefully remove the top sheet. Place it on the work surface in front of you with one of the long sides closest to you. Recover the remaining sheets. Lightly brush the whole surface with melted butter. Cut the filo from top to bottom into 6 equally wide strips. Place 1 tablespoon filling on the end of the strip closest to you. Fold the end of the strip closest to you over the filling and flush with the long side of the dough strip, forming a triangle that encloses the filling. Continue roll-folding the strip of dough, as you would to store a flag, keeping the triangle shape intact and making sure the spinach filling is completely enclosed. Transfer the triangle to a non-stick or lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining filo and filling. Brush the tops of the triangles with melted butter and bake until golden brown and crispy, about
* Filo is usually sold frozen in 1-pound boxes. A package of filo dough may be defrosted at room temperature (about 2 hours) or in the refrigerator (about 24 hours). Remove only remove the number of sheets called for in the recipe from the defrosted package. To make life interesting, filo used to be a standard 10 x 18″ size. It is now also sold in a smaller size sheet (9 x 14″ or so). You don’t really know which size you’re getting until you open the box. Not to worry, if your filo seems too narrow to cut into six 2 1/2″ or so strips, start by cutting it in 4 strips and then work your way up to 5. Cover the filo sheets with a sheet of plastic wrap and then a very lightly dampened towel. Immediately return the remaining sheets to the plastic bag they were sealed in and wrap the plastic bag tightly in aluminum foil before returning to the freezer or refrigerator. Most likely you’ll get one more use out of the refrozen filo. It tends to flake out after that. Keep that in mind and double or even triple this recipe and keep the extra triangles in the freezer. Good for a quick nosh if people stop in for a drink.