Makes 30 small spinach rolls, or one large pie
I tend to only make this recipe once a year for Shavuot – a celebration of the Children of Israel receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. Many have the costume to eat dairy foods on the holiday for a huge variety of reasons. In many homes, Shavuot becomes an all-out celebration of dairy, foods, and not being one to shy away from a celebration I have my very own Shavuot repertoire. No Shavuot would be complete without these ubiquitous Balkan rolls of spinach and feta. That said every single year after I have made them and made a total fool of myself eating far more than I should, I ask myself, why only once a year? Don’t be like me – make these and make them often!
• 3 large (850g approximately) onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 40g (3 tablespoons) good olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 900g (30 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
• 7 eggs, beaten
• 80g (1 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 20g (3 tablespoons) plain dry bread crumbs
• 250g (8 ounces) feta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 65g (1/2 cup) pine nuts
• 225g (1 cup) salted butter, melted (if making pie you will only need 75g (1/3 cup)
• 30 sheets (one package) phyllo dough, defrosted (if making pie you will only need 6 sheets)
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
2. In a large sauté pan over a medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once hot add the onions and sauté until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the spinach. In a large bowl combine the spinach, fried and seasoned onions, eggs, parmesan, bread crumbs, cubed feta, and toasted pine nuts.
4. To prepare rolls, start by opening up the filo package and cover the sheets of dough (aside from the one you are working with), with a clean tea towel. Working with one sheet at a time, place the sheet down vertically. Brush the sheet with melted butter, place two tablespoons of spinach mixture at the very bottom centre of the sheet, fold the sides over the filling and roll up. Place the roll seam side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with baking paper, brush the top with additional melted butter. Repeat with remaining filo sheets and spinach filling, place the rolls about ½ an inch apart on the baking tray, you may need a second tray.
5. Bake rolls for 20 -25 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
For Spinach and Feta Pie:
1. If you are short on time, you can use the filling to make a spinach pie, make the filling as above, line a pie dish with 1 sheet of filo, place it in such a way that one short edge of the filo lines up with the inner edge of the pie dish and let the remaining length of the filo sheet hand out of the pie dish, rotate the dish a sixth of the way and repeat with next sheet of filo, brushing between each with melted butter and letting the edges hang over the pan. By the time you are done the pie dish should look like a child’s drawing of sun rays. Pour the spinach mixture into the phyllo and neatly fold the edges of the filo up to seal in the filling. Brush the top of each layer with melted butter. Bake for 1 hour.
2. Can be made up to one day before serving, keep in the fridge well warped, heat gently before serving.