Saturday 6 July 2013

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Kale Pies)

Spanakopita - Greek spinach and kale pies just like Aladdin's bakery!

I think today is perhaps the hottest day of the year so what do I do?  I turn on the oven. I just couldn't help myself though.  I've been thinking about spinach pies for days and just had to make some!

I was introduced to spinach pies back in the mid-90s when I moved to Cleveland and my uncle brought home a bag of pies from Aladdin's Bakery (Cleveland plate above used in their honour!).  These hand sized triangles filled with spinach and feta became one of my favourite foods and I would wolf them down either heated up or cold.  I would regularly dream of sinking my teeth into them again after moving back to England 13 years ago and it didn't even cross my mind to make them myself.  Until now...
Generally spanakopita seems to be made with filo pasty but I'm not much of a fan and the original Aladdin's pies were made with more or a pita type dough.  I decided to cheat a little and used pre-made dough that I've only seen recently in the supermarket.  Dough in tubes is a common thing in the States so I was pretty excited about finding it.  Ok, so it did say on the packet that it was for crusty rolls but who lets these things get in the way of a good pie?!

To start with, steam about 400g of spinach and a good handful of kale.  I use the microwave to steam - just lightly cover a bowl and microwave for about a minute and half.  Keep the lid on to let the spinach steam until it has wilted.  Let the spinach cool then squeeze out all of the water.  Chop the kale and spinach into small pieces.

Finely dice a medium white onion and one clove of garlic.

Over a medium heat soften the onion then add the garlic.

Once the onion and garlic has cooled add it to the spinach and kale.  Crumble about 175g of feta cheese, add a medium egg, a few grinds of black pepper, a large pinch of nutmeg and mix everything thoroughly.  You want a bit of everything in a bite!

If you don't want to cheat with the dough, use a recipe for a crusty roll dough - you'll need about 330g or enough for 6 rolls.

Opening these tubes is up there with opening sparkling wine - I hate the pop so Mr Jones had to help with this bit!  Roll out the dough to about 1mm thickness - the dough I used kept springing back so it took a little bit of rolling to get it to the size I wanted.

Spoon just over a dessert spoon of the spinach filling then fold the dough over to form a pasty shape then press the edges firmly to seal.  If there are any gaps the mixture will try to escape while baking.

On this roasting hot day, heating the oven felt so wrong but I ignored this - I had pies to bake!  180 degrees for a fan oven, 200 degrees for other ovens.

Place the pies on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Greek spinach and kale pies (Spanakopita) are packed with greens and feta cheese.  Perfect for picnics!

I couldn't resist eating one straight out of the oven but they are just as delicious cold!  With the weather set to be so lovely, why not take some on your next picnic?

P.S. You can also make these in muffin trays!

1 pack of crusty roll pastry
400g spinach
175g feta cheese
A handful of kale
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
Black pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
1 medium egg

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