Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Spanakopita

Makes: 1 9x13 inch pan phyllo squares, 8 quarter-sheet phyllo triangles, 12 GF rice paper rolls


  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 20 medium white mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 pkg frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
  • 1 large tub (300g-400g) Ricotta cheese
  • ~150g sharp parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • ~200g Greek style Feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup fresh dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 pkg phyllo sheets, thawed overnight in fridge
  • 12 rice paper sheets, (I used ~8 inch circles)


To make filling:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, on medium heat. Add the chopped onions, mushrooms and garlic. Stir occasionally cook until onions are translucent/lightly browned, and water is cooked off mushrooms.
  2. While cooking onions, etc., thaw spinach in a pot of water on low heat. Use a fork to scrape thawed spinach off the frozen block. When all the spinach is broken up and thawed drain water off with a sieve. Allow spinach to cool before squeezing water out. I've found using my (clean) hands, wading it in a ball and squeezing out the water works best.
  3. Transfer spinach and cooked onions, etc., to a medium sized bowl. Add cheeses and dill. Stir until just combined.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Add eggs two at a time, stir until just combined.

To make Quarter -sheet phyllo triangles:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
  2. Remove phyllo from package, and lay it out fat on wax paper(unfold sheets). Lay another layer of wax paper on top of sheets, with a damp tea towel on top of that – this will prevent the phyllo from drying out (and getting brittle), or getting too damp.
  3. On a clean work surface, lay out two sheets of overlapping wax paper over an area big enough to lay a full sheet of phyllo – work with the phyllo's longest side parallel to you. Give the phyllo at least 2-3 inches of extra wax paper on the top and bottom. This will make it easier to butter the sheets.
  4. Lay a sheet of phyllo on the wax paper. Lightly butter the left half the phyllo sheet. Fold sheet in half sideways. Butter left half of folded sheet and fold again. Butter the long strip of phyllo.
  5. Place a tablespoon scoop of filling near the bottom edge of rectangle. Fold a triangle of the phyllo strip over the filling. Fold filling up – as phyllo box will show – to make a triangle.
  6. Butter all sides of the finished triangle and place on a baking sheet.
  7. Repeat process for 7 more triangles.
  8. Bake in the oven for about twenty minutes or until the phyllo is lightly brown. I fnd I have to watch this like a hawk, depending how you fold, the triangles can take more or less time, so be careful! Check on them when you begin to smell them cooking!

To make the 9x13inch pan:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
  2. Lightly brush melted butter onto the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
  3. Lay a sheet of phyllo, centred, into the pan. Gently press the phyllo to the bottom and sides of the dish. Lightly brush the sheet of phyllo with melted butter. Repeat with two more sheets of phyllo.
  4. Lay a sheet of phyllo sideways on bottom of pan so that it will ft folded in half on the bottom of the pan. Butter half of phyllo sheet resting on bottom of pan. Fold sheet over. Butter top of sheet.
  5. Spread filling evenly into pan.
  6. Fold overhanging edges of phyllo on top of filling.
  7. Lay sheet of phyllo sideways, so that one half of sheet is fulling covering filling. Lightly butter the half of the sheet resting on filling. Fold sheet over, and butter the top. Repeat with three remaining sheets.
  8. Carefully score the top of the phyllo sheets in a diamond or square pattern. If you don't do this before it's baked you'll never get squares when it's baked!
  9. Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes, or until the top of the phyllo is lightly browned. Let cool before cutting along pre-made lines. Serve hot or cool.

To make Gluten Free Rice Paper Rolls:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  3. Melt ¼ cup butter in a small bowl – don't mix butter from phyllo with butter for GF rolls!
  4. Fill a medium sized bowl with hot tap water. You will likely need to rinse and refill bowl while working, as the water cools quickly and the sheets leave a residue in the bowl.
  5. Fully submerge a rice paper sheet in the hot water for approx 5 seconds. Check on sheet, if it is now mostly soft, and no longer crinkles when bent, it's time to remove it. Hold the sheet over the bowl to allow excess water to drip off.
  6. Lay out the rice paper on a clean work surface.
  7. Place 1 tablespoon of filling near the bottom-middle edge of the circle – but leave enough rice paper below filling to wrap paper over the filling.
  8. Fold bottom of rice paper up over filling. Fold the sides in to create a long rectangle the width of the filling – fold loosely as the filling will expand slightly when cooked. Roll rice paper rectangle around filling bundle to create a roll.
  9. Coat finished roll in butter and place on lined baking sheet.
  10. Repeat steps 5-9 for each roll until you run out of filling.
  11. Bake rolls in oven until rice paper is lightly browned. Approx. 15-20 minutes – but keep checking as I didn't time these the first time! I just kept checking on them – sorry!

Note: This recipe makes enough for two to have lunch, while baking a 9x13 pan for taking to a party, and even enough for 1-3 GF, dairy loving friends to have some too!

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