Well, all I can say is “be careful what traditions you begin”. In our household, Christmas would not be Christmas without Spanakopita. No, we’re not Greek. Here’s how it began… for many years, on Christmas Eve, I would have a appetizer/dessert fest. One of the appetizers was the Spanakopita. My kids adored them, and that was that. I have made them every year since whether I had the time or not, because, like I said…it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them. And, really, who wants to disappoint their kids? Not me. So my strategy is to set aside a day after Thanksgiving to make the little buggers. Luckily, they freeze beautifully, and you can make them in advance. Which is always a good thing for any recipe, especially around the holidays.
2 10 ounce packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1 – 1 1/2 cups butter, melted
3/4 cup onion, finely minced
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup farmers cheese
1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
1 package phyllo pastry sheets, defrosted
Defrost spinach and with your hands, squeeze out all the excess moisture. In a large skillet melt 2 Tbls. of the butter and saute the minced onion until translucent. Add the spinach, and saute for a few minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool. When cool, add beaten eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, both cheeses, and bread crumbs. Mix together until completely combined.
Setting up: (Dawn style)
Cover table with plastic tablecloth. Unwrap phyllo and unfold. Using a pizza wheel or kitchen shears cut the phyllo sheets lengthwise into 1 1/2 -2 inch strips. Stack the strips together into one stack and place on a sheet of wax paper. Cover with another sheet of wax paper, and then lay a damp (not wet) kitchen towel over that. This keeps the phyllo strips moist. If left uncovered, they will dry up and crumble – so remember to keep them covered in between using them. Line several rimmed cookie sheets (that will fit in your freezer) with wax paper and bring them to the table. On a hot pad, place your pan of warm, melted butter next to you, along with your bowl of spinach mixture. Now you are ready to roll!
Place one phyllo strip on the work surface and with a pastry brush, brush the entire strip lightly with the melted butter. Place a second strip over the first strip and again brush lightly with the melted butter. Now place a generous tablespoon of spinach mixture on the right hand corner of the strip. From right edge fold over filling and then bring up on an angle to begin folding back and forth into a triangle shape for the entire length of the strip (like folding a flag). Fold them as tightly as you can – otherwise the filling will leak out when you bake them. Place triangle on cookie sheet and brush the top with the melted butter. Continue on for each triangle until you have used all the spinach mixture, placing each sheet in the freezer as it is filled. During this process, you will have to reheat your butter to warm it up a few times, possibly having to add more butter if you run low. When the triangles are frozen, remove them and store in one layer in freezer zip lock bags or layer them between sheets of wax paper in a plastic storage container and place back in the freezer. Ok…now all of your triangles are comfortably nestled in your freezer, patiently waiting until you are ready to bake and serve them. Phew!
Preheat your oven to 375*
Line rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil. Place your triangles about 1-2 inches apart and bake until golden. Now you are ready to serve these flaky, savory little bundles of deliciousness. Mmmm. So gooood! The effort of preparing them has become a distant memory, while eating them is heavenly and becoming addictive. Now, if they become a tradition in your family, don’t say I didn’t warn you!