1 lb. fresh spinach
½ lb. feta cheese
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (optional)
½ cup chopped pine nuts (optional)
8 ounces ( ½ package) filo dough, thawed
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (approx.)
Cook cleaned spinach in microwave oven for 4 minutes. Remove to a colander and drain by placing a heavy bowl or pan on top for several minutes. If necessary, squeeze liquid out by hand. Meanwhile crumble feta into a mixing bowl. Chop drained spinach finely. Sprinkle spinach with salt. Add to cheese crumbles along with basil and pine nuts if using. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Open filo dough and unroll. Taking one sheet at a time, sprinkle each sheet with ½ teaspoon oil, fold in half, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon oil and fold in half again. Sprinkle with a bit more oil and then place a heaping tablespoon of spinach filling onto the corner. Fold into a triangle shape (like folding a flag) and tuck end into the last fold. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and repeat with remaining sheets. (Keep filo sheets covered with plastic wrap as you are working—they dry out quickly.) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Hints: These are appetizer sized portions. Frozen chopped spinach can be used, make sure to drain it well. I have used dried basil (2 or 3 teaspoons) and it tastes ok. I really like the addition of the pine nuts and want to try adding chopped sun dried tomatoes too. Use really good olive oil because it will be a main flavor in the end product. The filo dough is very delicate to work with but beautifully crisp in the end. If sheets come apart while you are working with them don't worry, just use the pieces as best as you can to encase the filling. Do not fold the triangles too tightly--the filling will expand during baking from steam and a bit of room will prevent the filling from splitting the filo and oozing onto the baking sheet too badly.
I loved spanakopita from the very first bite I had in the basement of Crossroads Mall at Dasks Greek to Me. This recipe combines a pesto type flavor with the original that makes it even more appealing to my palate. My half Greek daughter-in-law has some fabulous family recipes that I hope to share on this blog some day--but only if the family says it is ok!