Friday 29 March 2013

Spanakopita with Tzatziki

Spanakopita Recipe

Make sure the frozen spinach is fully thawed and squeezed dry.  I prefer to use goat or sheep's milk feta, as I find the cow milk feta is usually a poorer quality and has a saltier brine.  So depending on the type of feta used, it is best to wait until it is mixed in before the final seasoning of salt and pepper.  The filling amount is just about right for a 454 gram package of phyllo pastry (I had just 2 Tbsp left over of the filling - if you have more than that left, it also works great as a filling for shell pasta with tomato sauce).

Saute the following in 1 Tbsp olive oil:
  • 3 french shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)

  • 500 gram package of frozen spinach
  • 1/3 cup of chopped parsley

Cook just until the parsley is wilted and the spinach is warmed through.  Remove from heat, then add:
  • 300 gram container of ricotta
  • 1 cup of feta, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Then mix in 1 beaten egg.

The Fold

Unwrap the phyllo pastry and keep a clean moist dish towel over top - phyllo pastry can dry out very quickly.  Melt about 1/2 cup butter (to start with, might need more).  Lay a single piece of the pastry on the counter.  Brush the left 2/3 portion with the butter (the pastry is very delicate, so even with a pastry brush, I still tend to just "dot" the butter here and there).  Fold the right third over the middle, then the left third over that to make a three layer sheet.

Lightly brush melted butter on the entire length. If you brush it on at this stage, you don't really need to add more as each fold will already have some butter on the pastry.  However, for extra flaky pastry, brush a bit of melted butter every two or three folds.

I like a high filling to pastry ratio, so I use about 2 Tbsp per pastry wrapper. The first fold is diagonally to the right to form the first triangle.

Then fold upwards, then diagonally to the left.

Again, fold upwards, then diagonally to the right.

Then one more upward, and if it worked out correctly, you'll have one last diagonal fold to the left to form your triangle.  If it didn't quite work out perfectly, just wrap up what's left and brush with melted butter one last time to hold the last fold together.

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the pastry is lightly browned.

 Tzatziki Recipe

I had just made a batch of yogurt that had a portion of the dairy from goat's milk, so this was particularly tasty with the spanakopita.  If you like a thicker yogurt, drain it in a coffee-filter lined colander over a bowl in the fridge for a few hours.  

Mix together the following:
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1 cup grated cucumber, seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Let it rest for an hour or two for the flavours to develop.  Add more garlic or salt to taste.

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