I'm back after some readjustment (promotion at work for both me and A) which led to one of the busiest ever Augusts. In the midst of working and keeping up with the laundry- how do we have so much laundry every week!?- I wanted to make something that I could make on the weekend and grab for lunch as I was running out the door. Conveniently, A's grandparents dropped off some spinach from their garden so the pieces for spanakopita all came together nicely.
Spanakopita! Sorry. In my previous job, I worked in an office with a few people, one of which had lived in Greece and we would occasionally say a few words in Greek to each other when I was taking Greek classes. My other colleague would hear us and usually join in with a great Greek impression and his favourite Greek word- spanakopita! I can't hear it now without thinking of him. It's like A's friend whose favourite Greek word is karpouzi (watermelon).
It could be because I am learning Greek as a second language, but spanakopita and karpouzi are now linked with these two people in my head and I can't think about the word without thinking about the person. I was just sitting here trying to think of other food words that might be associated with a person....but mostly I just get flashes of memories, smells, feelings when I think of certain food words (for example, lasagne, tomato, cereal, and I do realize those are kinda random words). Hmm, I might think about food words I associate with certain people today when doing housework. With which food word would you want to be associated?
Back to what I came to show you. Although spanakopita is traditionally made in one large pan and cut into squares to be eaten on a plate, it is easy to wrap the phyllo dough into parcels instead. I will start this by saying that I did not make the phyllo dough and if I had to, I probably would not have tackled this dish. The grocery stores here very handily sell phyllo dough, shortcrust, and puff pastry in the refrigerated section and I gave into the ease of unrolling the sheets of dough for these spanakopita parcels.
Wash lots of spinach and chop up an onion and throw into a pan with a little olive oil. This shouldn't take too long, just long enough to wilt the spinach and until the onions turn translucent.
Once that has cooled, add to it one egg, ricotta (or feta or a combination depending on how strongly flavoured you want the filling- I used 2/3 ricotta and 1/3 feta) salt and a bit of nutmeg. I wouldn't use nutmeg instinctively here, and in fact the Cypriot cookbook I have doesn't mention it, but I read a few recipes online that mention nutmeg and it really brings the flavours together, so try it!
Time for assembly. Lay one sheet of the phyllo dough on to an oiled tray and brush olive oil all over. Then lay another sheet on top of the first and brush with more oil. I used three layers for most of the parcels as two was too flimsy, four was too much dough and three was just right. I also cut the sheets of dough in half to make the parcels but that depends on the size of the sheet in the first place.
Place a large spoonful of the spinach cheese mixture in the centre of the dough and begin folding. Triangles worked best for me but you can get creative with the shapes, as long as the filling is sealed inside at the end.
Brush the top of the parcels with olive oil before baking in a 350F/185C oven for 20 or so minutes until the tops have browned and are flaky.
Tasty and great for snacking in a busy week!