I interned at Your Family magazine when I was in my final year at NWU. Once a week during lunchtime, the girls in the office would go to Fournos Bakery on Jan Smuts Ave (yes, I very briefly lived in Johannesburg) and swoon before the warm loaves of rye bread, freshly baked chicken pies and quiches, and flaky chocolate croissants. This is where I met and fell head over heels in love with spanakopitas. I would buy six and a time and devour them before I even reached the door. I have never tasted spanakopitas quite as good as those again, and for that reason I had to try my hand at it.
Traditionally spanakopitas are triangular and filled with spinach, ricotta, onions and eggs. My version only consist of fresh baby spinach and feta cheese, and I’ve rolled them in cigars due to a lack of patience (I haven’t quite figured out how the phyllo pastry is folded to make an impeccable triangle). They are perfect for appetizers, especially when dipped in a bit of tzatziki. In this version the spinach really shines through and demonstrates that sometimes less is more.
300 g baby spinach
200 g feta
10 sheets of phyllo pastry, cut in half to about A4 size
100 g butter, melted
1. Place the spinach in a colander and pour 3 cups of boiling water over the spinach. Drain the water and let the spinach dry for about an hour.
2. Take a sheet of phyllo pastry and butter on both sides.
3. Place a tablespoon of spinach in the center at one side of the pastry and crumble a bit of feta cheese on top of it. Fold the two sides toward the spinach and roll to form a cigar. Repeat with all the spinach, feta and phyllo.
4. Place in a baking and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden crisp at 180 degrees.
6. Serve with tzatziki.