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Spanakopita – Wild Greens and Feta Filo Parcels

Spanakopita with nettles and three cornered leek.

Spanakopita is a delicious Greek filo pastry parcel or pie stuffed with wild greens and feta cheese. These ones are formed into individual triangles with crisp crackly pastry on the outside and a chewy, salty, fresh tasting inside. The greens in this filling are mostly nettles and three cornered leeks.

Eat Your Weeds

Stinging nettles are all the rage these days and if you haven’t managed to eat any yet, you’re missing a real treat. You’ll find plenty of recipes for this super nutritious green online. I have quite a few myself. But there are plenty of other delicious wild greens out there. Wild garlic is one of my favourites, but actually three cornered leek is pretty good too.

It’s important to wash any wild greens your forage really well. This is especially true if you’re going to eat them raw. The greens are cooked in these spanakopita, but you still don’t want to include any dirt or little creatures by mistake.

Nettle Recipes

Three Cornered Leek

Three cornered leek (Allium triquetrum), however is much less known as an edible weed. Even though it seems to grow everywhere. It’s a non-native invasive plant, so don’t worry about picking it. It emerges from winter dormancy in the early spring and it’s best to pick the greens before or just as the flowers appear. You don’t want to leave them until they get tough. In New Zealand and Australia, it’s known as onion weed.

Three cornered leek flowers in a vase.

It has a mild onion flavour, quite similar to leek and a distinctive triangular flower stem, hence its name. You can use bunches of the leaves as I’ve done in this spanakopita recipe and they won’t overpower the dish.

For more information on the three cornered leek and for identification, Wild Food UK has a useful page on it.

Other Greens

You can make spanakopita with pretty much any greens you like. Most spanakopita recipes these days call for spinach. But traditionally, Greeks make it with wild foraged greens. They’ll be different ones used according to the seasons. I’ve made them with good old spinach plenty of times before, but also with homegrown orach. If you’re interested here’s one of my variations: spinach filo pastries with goat’s cheese and chocolate. Yes chocolate. It works a treat in lots of savoury recipes.

You can use any combination of wild greens or spinach type leaves that you like. Wild garlic would be a good substitute for the three cornered leek, although you might want to have more nettles and less wild garlic as it can be quite strong.

Spanakopita half demolished.

These ones with nettles and onion weed are the best yet. They taste really fresh and vibrant. The mint helps with this too and we continued to experience that feeling of freshness in the mouth for at least an hour after we’d eaten them. We demolished rather more than was seemly for lunch. But really, they’re very hard to resist.

Spanakopita

The amount I’ve given in the recipe should make between twelve and fourteen well stuffed spanakopita parcels. Eat warm, rather than piping hot, although they’re also good at room temperature. They’re at their best though about ten to fifteen minutes after they come out of the oven.

Spanakopita just out of the oven.

You’ll need to cook the nettles first, but once that’s done, it’s just a case of mixing all the filling ingredients together. It’s important to chop the three cornered leek as finely as possible so that it cooks in the pastry parcels. But don’t try and puree it. Spanakopita just wouldn’t be the same with a soft mush inside. You need a bit of texture and something to chew on to appreciate the flavours. And wow, do they taste good.

The main point to remember with spanakopita is that you don’t want a wet filling. If the filling is wet, you’ll get soggy pastry at best or at worst, the pastry might collapse altogether. So make sure you squeeze out any excess water from the cooked nettles. And dry the three cornered leeks well after you’ve washed them.

If you like your food well seasoned, you may want to add more salt, but the feta cheese is already quite salty, so be careful.

Folding Filo Into Triangles

It’s important when you work with filo pastry to keep any sheets you’re not currently using covered. If it dries out, the sheets will tear and become impossible to work with. Cut the sheet your working on to size, then brush immediately with oil. I find folding the sheet and then running a knife along the crease works best.

You can create whatever shape of filo parcel you like, but I find triangles the easiest and neatest. It’s rare for the filling to escape and you get extra crunch from all those corners. If you’ve never done this before, don’t be put off, it’s a lot easier than it may seem. Here’s a visual guide on how to do it.

Can I Just Use Spinach?

Well actually spinach is a fine green to use and it’s easy to get hold of. It’s generally available for sale all year around, so you don’t have to wait until spring to make these spanakopita. Just cook the spinach lightly in only the water it’s washed in. As I’ve done with the nettles. Just ensure you drain it well. You really don’t want a wet mixture going into the filo parcels.

Alternatively use frozen spinach. Defrost it first, then squeeze out any excess moisture. You don’t need to cook it first.

If you use spinach as the only greens in this spanakopita recipe, it’s best to fry up an onion or a leek to go into the mix. And you might want to add some garlic too. Obviously, with all the three cornered leeks in these ones, no extra type of onion is needed.

Can You Freeze Spanakopita?

Baked spanakopita will last in the fridge for 3-4 days. Just place them in a hot oven for ten minutes or so for the filling to heat and the pastry to crisp up.

Likewise, you can freeze the cooked spanakopita for up to a couple of months. Just place in freezer bags when cool and pop into the freezer. When you’re ready to eat them, defrost and then bake in a hot oven for ten minutes or so. The filling should be properly heated through and the pastry crisp.

Alternatively, you could freeze the filling until you’re ready to make the spanakopita.

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these spanakopita, whether it’s with nettles, three cornered leek or any other sort of greens, 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.

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Spanakopita. Pin It.

Spanakopita with foraged wild greens.

Spanakopita – The Recipe

Spanakopita with nettles and three cornered leek.
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5 from 9 votes

Spanakopita with Wild Greens

Classic Greek crisp filo pastry parcels usually stuffed with greens and feta cheese. These ones make the most of early spring foraging and contain nettles and three cornered leeks, aka onion weed. They make a great snack, starter, light lunch or addition to a mezze style feast.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Lunch, Snack, Starter
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: feta, filo, mint, nettles, onion weed, pastry, vegetarian, wild greens
Servings: 12 pastries
Calories: 156kcal

Ingredients

  • 400 g onion weed leaves and flower shoots - finely chopped
  • 100 g nettles or other spinach type leaf - well washed
  • 20 g fresh mint leaves - finely chopped
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • pinch fine sea or rock salt
  • 200 g feta cheese - crumbled or finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 270 g filo pastry sheets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling - optional

Instructions

  • In a large pan, simmer the nettles with the lid on for five minutes or so until wilted. You shouldn't need to add any water as the leaves will be wet from washing, but if you think they're going to catch, add just a little. Drain off any surplus water and leave to cool.
  • Chop the onion weed as finely as you can. You don't need to cook it beforehand. Place in a large bowl along with the mint.
  • Squeeze any excess water out of the nettles with your hands. Don't worry, they don't sting when they're cooked. Chop roughly and add to the bowl.
  • Grate in some nutmeg and black pepper.
  • Add the goat's cheese and egg, then mix well.
  • Cut the filo sheets lengthways into halves or long strips, depending on the size of sheet you're using. They should measure aproximately 12.5 cm. Brush the top side of each, sparingly, with olive oil.
  • Place two tablespoonfuls of the greens onto the bottom of each strip.
  • Wrap the pastry up to form 12 to 14 large triangles.
  • Brush, sparingly, with olive oil and scatter over some sesame seeds if liked.
  • Place on an oiled baking tray (or trays) and bake at 190℃ (375℉, Gas 5) for 20 to 25 minutes until crisp and golden.

Notes

You can use any combination of wild greens or spinach type leaves that you like. Wild garlic would be a good substitute for the onion weed.
Eat warm, rather than piping hot, although they're also good at room temperature. They're at their best though about ten minutes or so after they come out of the oven.
If you like your food well seasoned, you may want to add more salt, but the feta cheese is already quite salty, so be careful.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 999IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 291mg | Iron: 2mg

Sharing

I’m sharing these nettle and three cornered leek spanakopita with Apply to Face Blog for #CookBlogShare.

30 Comments

  1. angiesrecipes

    3rd March 2020 at 3:51 pm

    We adore filo pastries! These parcels look amazing and a big YES to the wild greens 🙂

    Reply
    • Choclette

      3rd March 2020 at 7:33 pm

      Thanks Angie. They really are very adorable and even better with wild greens.

      Reply
  2. Pavani

    3rd March 2020 at 5:31 pm

    We love spanakopita but didn’t know that they were made with foraged greens. Your recipe with nettles and green garlic sounds absolutely delicious.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      3rd March 2020 at 7:31 pm

      Spanakopita are very versatile and you can make them with pretty much any greens you happen to come across.

      Reply
  3. Janice Pattie

    3rd March 2020 at 6:41 pm

    oh, I love this idea. It will soon be time for foraging again and I’m going to try this recipe.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      3rd March 2020 at 7:30 pm

      Yes it’s definitely time to forage. We’ve been living of nettles these last few days. They spanakopita are so delicious, the danger is in eating too many of them in one sitting.

      Reply
  4. Mary

    3rd March 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Goodness me, who would have thought to eat Onion Weed. It’s so invasive. All through the lawn and gardens. I have often wondered if I could eat Onion Weed but have never bothered to find out. When it comes again I shall have to try it. The season is now over. Love Spanakopita so what’s not to like with a bit of Onion Weed!
    Thanks for the idea. :))

    Reply
    • Choclette

      4th March 2020 at 7:31 am

      It is incredibly invasive stuff. We’re not allowed to propagate it over here, but it’s everywhere. So eating it seems like a jolly good thing to do. I used some to make last night’s latkes too, rather than a regular onion.

      Reply
  5. Jacqueline Meldrum

    4th March 2020 at 5:59 pm

    Those look amazing Choclette. I’ve not made pastries like this for a long time. I love your filling too. Bet they were tasty. Sharing!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      4th March 2020 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks Jac. Super tasty. Luckily I put a few by and we’re having them for supper tonight.

      Reply
  6. Christina | Christina's Cucina

    4th March 2020 at 6:00 pm

    LOVE spanikopita and these sound wonderful! I’ve never tried nettles, but am certain I’d like them, especially when used in a recipe like this!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      4th March 2020 at 6:08 pm

      Oh Christine you absolutely must try nettles. They’re delicious and a British classic spring green – if a little old-fashioned.

      Reply
  7. Natalie

    4th March 2020 at 7:07 pm

    What an interesting recipe. Never tried spanakopita before. Sounds really good. I will save this recipe to give it a try.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      5th March 2020 at 7:37 am

      Oh yes do try it. Spanakopita is a classic and so very good.

      Reply
  8. Leslie

    5th March 2020 at 2:05 am

    I’ve never had Spanakopita. This looks like a really fun and delicious recipe to try!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      5th March 2020 at 7:38 am

      It’s delicious and really easy to make, so well worth trying.

      Reply
  9. All That I'm Eating

    5th March 2020 at 10:23 am

    This is a brilliant idea and I really like that you’ve made the spanakoptia into individual triangles rather than one big pie. Love the sound of the nettles and three cornered leeks inside.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      5th March 2020 at 7:35 pm

      I much prefer them done individually to a large pie, but I’m a bit of a pastry fan, so that might have something to do with it.

      Reply
  10. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder

    5th March 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Such a great idea to make individual Spanakopita parcels! I’ve never had cornered leeks before but now after seeing your photos am pretty sure I’ve seen them around. The parcels sound delicious!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      5th March 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks Jo, they’re really good. I’m very sure you’ll have seen three cornered leeks around, they’re a bit of a pesky nuisance and have spread everywhere. But they do taste good at a time when onions aren’t in season. Not that that really matters these days.

      Reply
  11. Jessica Cantoni

    5th March 2020 at 9:14 pm

    I love the twist to this recipe! I’ve been dreaming of our trip to Corfu last year… this just makes me want to go back even more now!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      6th March 2020 at 7:28 am

      I’m not surprised. I’ve never been to Greece, but have always wanted to go.

      Reply
  12. Rosemary

    6th March 2020 at 4:11 pm

    I love this recipe. There are so many great wild ingredients that are available if only we took the time to forage for them. We get a lot of wild garlic where we live and I will definitely be trying a version of these using it.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      6th March 2020 at 5:34 pm

      Time is the key factor, few of us seem to have much of that any more. Me included. I didn’t manage to get any wild garlic last year and I usually make a ton of pesto. I reckon spanakopita would be fantastic with 50% nettles and 50% wild garlic.

      Reply
  13. Jenny Walters

    7th March 2020 at 12:26 pm

    What a great recipe! I would love to be able to cook with nettles. My children would think it amazing!! They sound fabulously tasty. What brilliant picnic food too. I love them and intend to make them this summer. We certainly are surrounded by nettles by then Thanks so much for sharing with #CookBlogShare

    Reply
    • Choclette

      8th March 2020 at 11:24 am

      They’re really delicious Jenny, but nettles are best picked when young, so spring is better than summer.

      Reply
  14. Sylvie

    8th March 2020 at 10:49 pm

    I love spanakopita, and it is such a great idea to make them with wild greens! So crunchy and packed with flavours, yum!!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      11th March 2020 at 9:17 am

      Yes, it’s that crunch followed by the soft inside that makes them so appealing – well one of the reasons anyway.

      Reply
  15. Sally

    29th March 2020 at 2:01 pm

    We had these when we arrived on our first day in Corfu a couple of years ago. They were delicious. I’d never thought to make them, but I’ll give them a go!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      29th March 2020 at 5:52 pm

      How lovely. I’ve always wanted to go to Corfu. One day. Meanwhile, I’m very happy to indulge in some of their wonderful recipes. Spanakopita are really easy to make, so do give them a go.

      Reply

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