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Spanakopita (aka phyllo dough)

1

December 29, 2011 by Sara Kreidler

Yowza this picture is blurry. I was rushing and didn’t know how to change the settings on the new camera yet. Please bear with me.

My mom has made her rather non-traditional version of spanakopita since I was a kid.  I repeat, non-traditional; I realize that “real” spanakopita has an entirely different filling.  But this is how my mom makes it, and I love it.  Also, we don’t call it spanakopita, we call it phyllo (fee-low) dough, and we say it kind of yinzer.

Filling, up close.

As is our tradition, we made the spanakopita about 2 weeks ago at my mom’s house and then froze it before baking.  On Christmas, we just took it out of the freezer, brushed each piece with melted butter, baked and enjoyed.

Process picture in my mom’s kitchen: phyllo dough awaiting filling, a dish I remember from childhood, filled with melted butter, and a stained glass santa.

The one tricky thing about this recipe is that the phyllo dough can be a bit of a pain to work with.  The dough dries out very quickly, so you must have everything laid out in an assembly line before you start.

Another process picture feautring santa, the phyllo dough overseer (I don’t know/don’t remember why my mom stuck the santa knick knack in every shot, it seemed funny at the time though).

My mom has done this single-handedly before, but I think you really need two sets of hands (one to butter and fold the dough into thirds to make a long rectangle, and the other to fill and roll it into a triangle) to make this recipe without losing your mind and ripping the dough.

A finished piece, ready to be frozen or brushed with melted butter and baked.

Ingredients

  • 32 ounces ricotta
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 pound muenster cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound parmesan, grated
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 package frozen phyllo dough (contains 2 sleeves of dough), thawed according to package instructions
  • 3 sticks of butter, divided

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, muenster, parmesan, spinach, garlic powder and salt and pepper and mix well to combine.  Set aside.
  2. Melt two sticks of butter and set aside.
  3. On a clean work surface, unwrap and unroll one sleeve of phyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush entire surface of one sheet of dough with melted butter.  Fold the buttered dough in thirds to create a long rectangle (see photo three).  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling at the end of the dough, and then roll into a triangle (similar to folding a flag, or making a paper football; see pictures 3 and 4).
  4. If freezing for later use, transfer rolled pieces to a wax paper lined freezer safe container.  Fill the container, layering wax paper in between each layer of spanakopita.  Cover top with maxed paper and aluminum foil and freeze until ready to bake.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  Place frozen spanakopita triangles on a baking sheet (they do not need to be thawed before baking).  Melt 1 stick of butter and using a pastry brush, brush the top of each piece with melted butter.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the corners of each piece of spanakopita are golden brown (if spanakopita are not frozen before baking, it will only take about 5-10 minutes to bake).  Serve hot. Do not bake more than you intend to eat in a sitting, as these do not reheat very well after they’ve been baked and cooled off.
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