A Middle Eastern inspired vegetarian snack which is very hard to resist. These spinach filo pastries layer up spinach, goat’s cheese, fresh mint and a little chocolate. They are delicious all by themselves, but are also just what you need as part of a mezze style feast.
Some of you may remember my six course chocolate themed dinner party from a couple of months ago. These spinach filo pastries with, goat’s cheese and chocolate formed one of those six courses. They were polished of with alacrity and I’m sure I saw a few fingers being licked. Everyone agreed that the chocolate worked really well with the other ingredients – a gentle but enriching presence.
Spinach Filo Pastries
This is a an adaptable recipe, which I made up as I was devising the evening’s menu. Just adjust quantities to suit different tastes and the number of people partaking. One of our guests can’t eat products made with cow’s milk, so goat or sheep’s cheese it had to be. A good feta cheese is made with either goat or sheep’s milk, but I thought I’d play it safe and use some local soft goat’s cheese instead.
When I say spinach, I don’t actually use spinach. Our plot is full of orach. This is a really tasty spinach substitute with reddish coloured leaves. It’s not only very easy to grow but it seeds everywhere, which means once you’ve got it, you don’t really need to sow it again. So I used homegrown orach for my spinach filo pastries.
To avoid the spinach burning when cooking, wash it just before using. Give it a quick shake but keep some of the water on the leaves.
Tips and Tricks
Filo pastry is a very thin dough which is a bit tricky to make at home. It cooks very quickly and is particularly crisp. It makes fantastic pastries and is widely used in the Balkans and Middle East. Just in case you’re wondering, Phyllo pastry is just another spelling for filo. It means leaf in Greek.
- I learnt how to make filo triangles on a Middle Eastern mezze course at the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath a couple of years ago. And I’m very glad I did as it’s proved to be invaluable on several occasions. However, it’s a bit beyond me to explain how to do it here. Suffice it to say, once you’ve got the knack, it’s really easy. Triangles are a particular good shape to use as they hold the filling in well; all three sides are at least double wrapped. But if folding filo pastry into triangles seems a bit beyond you, by all means make them into rolls or rectangles instead. Update: I now have a step-by-step guide for you in my spanakopita post.
- The secret to working with filo pastry is to keep it covered so that it doesn’t dry out. If it gets too dry it’s likely to snap rather than bend.
- Another trick is to coat each piece with oil or melted butter. This helps to make the baked pastry crisp, flaky and most importantly, delicious.
- If you want to make these vegan, simply swap the goat’s cheese for some vegan cheese or tofu and use olive oil rather than butter. But do make sure any chocolate you use is suitable for vegans.
- Swap the goat’s cheese for feta cheese if you prefer.
- Don’t let the inclusion of chocolate put you off, it’s worth a try.
Can I Make The Pastries Ahead of Time?
- You can make these spinach filo parcels a couple of days ahead. Keep in the refrigerator before baking then pop in the oven just before they’re needed.
- To freeze the pastries prior to baking, place on a flat baking surface and freeze for an hour. Once frozen, remove and pop into a container or bag. Will keep for 3 months. Bake from frozen for for 15 to 20 minutes.
Middle Eastern Filo Pastries
These sort of spinach filo pastries are popular in many parts of the Middle East. Spanakopita is a favourite in Greece where the filo pastry is filled with a mixture of spinach, mint and feta cheese. In Turkey you’ll find something very similar called börek. Fatayer is a savoury Lebanese pastry. Sometimes it’s made with filo and sometimes with a bread dough. One of the most popular fillings for it is spinach.
When it comes to sweet filo pastries, well, there are just too many to mention. But I have a most delicious recipe for chocolate baklava.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these Middle Eastern inspired spinach filo pastries, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
Spinach Filo Pastries – The Recipe
Spinach Filo Pastries with Goat's Cheese and Chocolate
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 shallots - finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic - finely chopped
- 125 g spinach or spinach type leaf (I used homegrown orach)
- a grating of nutmeg
- a good grinding of black pepper
- 50 g soft ripe goat's cheese
- a few leaves of fresh mint - finely chopped
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 20 g 85% dark chocolate - cut into rough chunks
- 3 filo pastry sheets
- In a large pan, sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
- Added a the freshly washed & still wet spinach to the pan and cover with a lid. Simmer until wilted (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat. If the mixture is too wet, drain off any surplus liquid. (I didn't need to)
- Grate in a little nutmeg and some black pepper.
- Stir in the goat's cheese and mint.
- Melt the butter.
- Cut the filo sheets lengthways into 4 long strips & brush each with melted butter.
- Place a large teaspoonful of the spinach mixture onto the bottom of each strip.
- Add a couple of chocolate chunks & wrap in the pastry to form 12 triangles.
- Brush the triangles with melted butter.
- Place on an oiled baking tray and bake at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for 10 minutes until crisp and golden.
As the main ingredient here was goats cheese, I am entering this into Alpha Bakes where the letter is G for goat’s cheese this month. This is hosted alternately by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.