Foodiva's Kitchen: Spanakopita Wannabes

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spanakopita Wannabes

While I was running with my friend, LAZsie the other day, she mentioned this Greek savoury pastry called Spanakopita and how ultra-delicious it was, and that yeah, I should try to make it. Jogging along steadily, she went on to describe the ingredients which consists mainly of spinach and feta cheese, all lovingly wrapped up in layered phyllo pastry. I swear, just listening to her made me gain a few calories… even while we were trying to lose some at the time.

So today, I was lying in bed and contemplating if I should try to make Spanakopita. Went downstairs, searched around and alas, there were no spinach and no feta in sight. But wait.. there was still some phyllo in the freezer! In the end, you could say that I made something inspired by Spanakopita, and it was equally as delicious. For the purposes of this post, let’s just call it the “Spanakopita Wannabes”.

The great thing about this healthy dish is that I made them using a standard muffin tray so that they didn’t fall apart and retained some sort of pyramidal shape. The phyllo-wrapped Wannabes contained these: egg-plant, baby corn, chives and shredded parmesan cheese. A winning combination, even my veggie-picky home-dwellers liked it!

Spanakopita Wannabes
Makes: 8 muffin-sized portions

2 eggplants, peeled and sliced
3 baby corn, sliced
Bunch of chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
8 Phyllo pastry sheets
Olive oil

1. Cook the filling first by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil and frying the garlic, onion and chives until fragrant. Add the eggplant and baby corn and stirfry until the vegetables are slightly cooked, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, set aside to cool. Once cooled, add the shredded Parmesan and mix well.

2. Thaw the phyllo sheets and make sure you place a damp cloth over the sheets while you are working with them as they tend to dry out very quickly. Rub some olive oil on both sides of a sheet, fold it into a wide cone and place the pointed end of the cone inside a muffin cup.

Fold over phyllo to seal the cone, then flip over and tuck into the muffin cup.

3. Spoon in the vegetable and cheese filling, fold the phyllo over the open side of the cone, turn it over and tuck the folded part into the base of the muffin cup.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 10 minutes until brown and crispy. Serve while still warm.

The advantage of using these vegetables as fillings is that I didn’t have to worry about them being “wet” after they are cooked. I think with spinach, you still have to squeeze some amount of liquid out to ensure that the phyllo won’t get soggy once they are filled. Using Parmesan over Feta gives good flavour too, it’s just not as moist as the real Spanakopita. I'm confident the Greeks won’t mind me copying being inspired by their dish – graciousness must after all be one of the hallmarks of a great civilization.

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