Whenever I’m having a big party at my house, I like to get the cooking started as early as possible. No one wants to be at a hot stove with melting makeup when guests are arriving! So I try to pick foods where I can do a lot of the work in advance and with just a bit of last minute prep. Spanakopita is one of my favorite in-advance party foods.
It’s delicious, impressive and while it’s on the menu for most caterers no one seems to make it at home. It is really a snap to make, it just requires a bit of prep time.
1. Gather your ingredients and tools
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 t of Olive Oil
1 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach
3 large eggs, beaten
2 T of fresh chopped dill
6 oz of feta cheese
1 package of phyllo dough – don’t forget to defrost it!
1 to 2 sticks of butter, melted (Paula Deen would be proud)
Salt and Pepper
We’re all just going to pretend that you see a bottle of olive oil in that picture and not a canister of bread crumbs, OK?
Two damp towels
Cutting board or work surface big enough for a sheet of phyllo (9″ x 13.5″)
Baking sheet or cutting board that fits in your freezer
Waxed or parchment paper
2. Saute the scallions in olive oil
Don’t be an idiot like me, use a bigger pan. You just want to saute them for one to two minutes to bring out the flavor and cut the sharp onion taste.
3. Create your filling
Defrost, drain and squeeze the excess water out of the spinach. Add the scallions, spinach, eggs, dill and feta into a medium bowl and stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste, I usually do about 1/4 t of each.
4. Set up your phyllo station
Phyllo dough can be intimidating to work with at first. It’s so delicate and seems to tear easily. I used to stress about these things but I’ve found that if you throughly thaw your phyllo it’s easier to work with. So just throw it in the fridge a day before you make this and you’ll be set. Also, almost any tear on phyllo can be fixed by simply adding more butter.
Take one damp towel and lay it on your counter then cover that towel with a layer of plastic wrap. Open your phyllo dough and unroll it onto the plastic wrap. Add another layer of plastic wrap on top of the phyllo dough and top off with the damp towel.
Essentially what you’ve done is to create a phyllo dough sandwich. The key to working with phyllo is to make sure it doesn’t dry out. This method ensures your phyllo will be ready to go when you are….you just need to remember to cover it back up when you’re not pulling sheets out.
5. Fill your spanakopita
Begin by placing one sheet of phyllo on your work surface. Brush the phyllo with butter
Salt and pepper the phyllo
Add two more sheets of phyllo brushing each with butter. Each phyllo set that you’ve prepared will yield three servings. Place one teaspoon of filling along the short edge of the phyllo at the top, middle and bottom. Don’t over fill! I almost always get lazy toward the end of making these and my teaspoons start getting bigger and bigger. It makes the spanokopita really hard to fold up when you over fill.
6. Fold your spanakopita
Cut the phyllo into three strips lengthwise with your pizza cutter.
Begin to create the triangle pouches by taking the corner of one strip and folding it across the filling.
Fold the filling pouch over the phyllo strip.
Continue on as if you are still in 7th grade making a paper football until you get to the end of the phyllo dough strip.
You can use a bit of butter to seal down the edges if you have fly away ends.
7. Freeze your spanakopita
You don’t have to freeze your spanakopita, you can cook and enjoy them right away but this post is all about in-advance party prep. I usually make these at least two weeks before my party so they have to go in the freezer. Line your baking sheet or cutting board with waxed paper and fill with your completed spanakopita.
Pop these beauties into the freezer for a half hour (or more if you get distracted)
Let’s just ignore the fact that I’m using bread and sorbet to keep this pan level….at least I found space for it! After they are frozen, pull out the tray and place the spanakpita in a ziploc bag.
When you’re ready to party, just pull them out of the freezer and place on your baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 24 – 36
Enjoy! — Martta