It has only rained 3-4 times since I have arrived back in Cyprus in January. It’s hard not to feel like spring has arrived here, with temperatures being about 16 to 18C during the day and spring flowers popping up everywhere. Last week, I went to buy some flowers for Mrs Cypriot & Proud from a lovely flower shop in Limassol, Cyprus. Everything was so pretty and green. I suspect it was probably the cause of me craving something springy and green to eat this week.We also had a couple thunderstorms and rainy days, which for a Canadian living in a hot place, I have to say I highly enjoyed. I went to the grocery store in the rainstorm, braving the flash floods that appear on the Cyprus roads without fail during a downpour, and bought my ingredients. I came home and spent the day cooking in my kitchen while watching the rainstorm outside. I also discovered that my pug Ernie is afraid of thunder! It was a nice time to indulge in making “spanakopittes” aka little spinach pies.There is a lot of fresh baby spinach available in the grocery stores at the moment, in addition to fresh leeks. I have never been a fan of leeks. I have always cringed at these guys – not quite onion, not quite anything else. But I do love them in “spanakopittes”. Leeks compliment the feta & spinach nicely, and add more depth to the filling. As my friend, who I met on Instagram, Magda of My Little Expat Kitchen mentioned, it adds a “welcoming sweetness”. I love mini “spanakopittes” because they are perfect for so many meal times.
This recipe is one my mom shared with me. I remember having them in my lunch-box at school as lunch-time snacks. They were always a favourite with the other kids too. These make for a fantastic party snack or an appetizer. Something that might come in particularly handy if you are preparing a Carnival party. Enjoy this lovely green food!
320 grams baby spinach
1/2 cup (scant) finely chopped leeks (i.e. about 1) (scant means just below full)
1 cup (heaped) finely chopped spring onions (i.e. about 4) (heaped means just above full)
1/2 (heaped) cup finely chopped dill
1 large egg
1 & 1/2 cups grated feta
1 package phyllo (thawed out, the type used to make baklava)
melted butter for brushing
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
1. Preheat the oven to 175C and line two baking pans with parchment paper.
2. Heat about 1 tbs olive oil in a frying pan on the stove on medium-high heat. When hot, add the leeks, spring onions and dill.
3. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, until the onion and leek start to turn translucent.
5. Strain the stir fried spinach mixture over a bowl for about 2 hours. Let the juices run out into a bowl. Keep these juices (freeze them) and add to chicken stock or the next time you make a vegetable soup.
6. In a large bowl, add the grated feta. In another bowl, beat the egg and then add this to the grated feta. Stir in the now cooled spinach mixture.
7. On a flat surface, place one sheet of phyllo. Brush the sheet liberally with melted butter. Then place another sheet of phyllo on top. Brush this sheet liberally with melted butter. Slice it with a sharp knife into 6-7cm wide strips.
8. Place a tablespoon on the feta-spinach mixture onto each strip and fold the phyllo over again and again, creating small triangles. Use a little bit of butter to “glue” down any leftover phyllo hanging over the edge. Place each triangle onto the baking sheet and brush lightly with a little butter. Make all the spinach pies.
9. Place baking sheet (one at a time) into the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes until the edges of the triangle turn golden brown.