Spanakopita Bites – Appetizer or Side Dish!
I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and knew I had to try it. Traditionally, you will find spanakopita in little triangles. This recipe was different, as this spanakopita is made in mini muffin pans. (I knew there had to be another use for those muffin pans!)
I was really hoping that I could count these as a “healthy” appetizer … and although they are made with lots of spinach, don’t fool yourself. They are also filed with cheese and a LOT of melted butter!
One of the cheeses for this recipe is a new favorite of mine. FETA! While down in Costa Rica this past spring I had the BEST feta cheese with my friend Alina. It was rich, flavorful, smooth and definitely not the grocery store feta I had previously tasted. I asked my Greek neighbor, Doreen, for some suggestions as to where to get some good feta in RVA. She recommended two places – Nick’s Produce and the Mediterranean Bakery by Regency. I know only buy fresh feta.
Onto to the recipe! Please check out Jo Ellen’s blog, for the original recipe and some other great recipes. I changed a couple of ingredients from Jo Ellen’s.
Mise En Place: Preheat convection oven- 375 degrees
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced finely
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach- thawed and squeezed dry
4 to 6 ounces domestic feta cheese, crumbled Did you know there is French Feta too?) AMAZING!
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese (or 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup of greek yogurt)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound phyllo, thawed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted
Additional -2 tablespoons olive oil
First step, I take out one package of store-bought phyllo dough from the freezer and allow it to start defrosting. Then I finely dice up a small onion and sauté it over medium heat until the onion turns translucent and soften.
While the onion is sautéing, I put the spinach in a strainer (side note – after the spinach has defrosted, literally squeeze out as much of the water as you can). This is not a gentle squeeze. This is an ” I AM SUPER WOMAN!” squeeze. This is a SMASH it against the metal strainer and think of an ex-boyfriend kind of Smash! If you don’t get out all of the water your bites will turn into mush. YUCK!
In a bowl- mix the drained spinach, feta, cottage cheese and egg. Next, add the softened onions and season lightly with salt and pepper. Remember your feta and cottage cheese are salty to begin with so try it and see how you like the flavor before you over salt.
Then, I melt down the 3/4 cup of butter in the microwave and set aside. (Next time I’d use 1/2 c butter.)
I now gently unfold the phyllo and with a pizza cutter, I slice it into 2 inch squares.
Then I fill each cup with 2 pieces of the phyllo dough (see picture below) and use a brush to “paint” the inside of each cup with the melted butter. Then I place 2 more phyllo squares into each cup and repeat twice. (Each cup will have been filled with 2 pieces of phyllo- 3 times.)
Time to fill them up! I use a cereal spoon to put a heaping teaspoon in. Bake in the preheated over for 15-20 minutes. ENJOY!!!
These are great appetizers because you can prepare them beforehand and then pop them in the oven right before your guests arrive. As you know, I am a vegetarian so I eat these for my main meal and will also serve them as an easy side dish to guests.
Because they were so good, I had to freeze the remaining because I was afraid I would eat all of them. They are that good. After being frozen and thawed, they reheated perfectly at 375 for about 6-8 minutes.
I know I have mentioned previously, to my whopping 40+ followers, the importance of using only unsalted butter. Unsalted butter is the freshest. Salt is a preservative, so who knows how long ago the salted butter made.
It goes without saying that I got my myself to the gym. I had to keep repeating “melted butter” every time I wanted to slow down on the stair master. I always feel bad for the people who are next to me on the equipment - I am always out of breath, my hair is a mess, and I am lip syncing to whatever hip hop I am listening too. It’s not pretty! Thankfully, I am already married because this look is not one to duplicate if you are trying to pick up people at the gym!
Bake on and get to the gym. (please remind me to get to the gym too … I hate working out!) NO DAD, it does not make me feel better!!!
PS: I had leftover filling which I used the next morning mixed in with my organic eggs. Awesome!
PS2: My mom is one of my editors … I love all of her edits and suggestions! My favorite line that got TAKEN OUT of this week’s blog was ” I don’t think we use God’s name in the same paragraph with the word BUTT!” LOL She is awesome … and right!