Beet Green Spanakopita

Happy 2011, everyone! I can’t believe we’re already in a new year. What’s more is that in less than a week, the Three Cheeses will be 1 year old! There will definitely be something special up on the blog to celebrate.

In the meantime, satisfy your hunger cravings with this delicious beet green spanakopita recipe! Spanakopita is the Greek term for a pastry triangle, filled with something sweet or savoury. The filling can be varied—what most people would know as a spanakopita is usually a spinach, egg, and feta cheese combo. This is quite similar, but uses an ingredient which I think usually is quite underrated—beet greens! So often it seems that someone buys a bunch of beetroot and simply discards the lovely fresh greens on top. It’s such a shame, because beet greens contain plenty of fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, and D, iron, folate, and so many more good things for you.

So the next time you see a bunch of beets at the market, grab them and turn their greens into this delicious snack, great as a meal on its own or as a side dish to lamb skewers and Greek salad. Yum-my!


Beet Green Spanakopita

Makes: 16 or so
Cooking time: an hour or so
Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of phyllo (filo) pastry, so around 16 sheets
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • greens and stems from 1 bunch of medium beets (beetroot)
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta and/or grated Cheddar or Parmesan
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp each basil and marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • pinch cinnamon (optional)

Carefully wash the leaves and stems from your bunch of beets—they tend to be dirty! Separate the stems from the leaves; chop stems finely and set aside in one bowl, chop leaves into thin strips and set aside in another bowl. Chop all your other ingredients.

Heat 1-2 tbsp of the butter in a medium-large frying pan, add onion and garlic and spices and saute until onion begins to soften and go translucent. Add the stems and cover, stirring occasionally so nothing gets stuck or overcooked, and cook until the stems have softened.

Once stems have softened, add the sliced beet greens and saute until they have wilted. Push vegetables to one side of the pan to create a ‘well’ on the other side—pour the eggs in, and scramble them in this little well until mostly cooked. Stir eggs through the vegetables. If there’s any excess moisture, leave on low heat for a few minutes to evaporate it.

Remove from heat, allow to cool for a few moments, then add your cheese and stir through.

Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, get your assembly space ready! Melt the remaining butter in a small bowl and get your counter set up with a baking tray for the finished spanakopita, a very slightly damp clean dish towel to cover the phyllo so it doesn’t dry out, and space to do your pastry folding.

Using one phyllo sheet at a time, brush the whole sheet lightly with butter, then fold into thirds lengthwise. Lightly brush with butter again. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture out to the bottom of the long rectangle; fold the left hand bottom corner to form a triangle on the right hand side, encapsulating the filling. Fold triangle up so that the filling is fully encased, then fold to the left, up, right, up, etc. (See photos below.) Keep the folding fairly accurate and fairly snug, or else you’ll start to get things leaking out.

Finish off each triangle with another dab of butter to keep it ‘sealed’. Place on a baking tray and repeat until all of the mixture is used up. Once you’re finished, brush them all again with a bit more butter if you have any left over.

Bake the phyllo triangles at 350 F / 180 C for 15-20 minutes, until nicely golden. Serve warm. (Cooked, they also freeze quite well for lunches, though I wouldn’t store them for more than 1-2 weeks.)

If you’re completely bamboozled as to how to fold these things, check out this video… there are a few differences but the point is the same. (She believes that chocolate is good for you too!)

2 Responses to Beet Green Spanakopita

  1. Hey! I found your beautiful photo on FoodGawker, and thought to myself “wow, that looks like the empanadas I made yesterday”! They really do. I made BBQ Tofu and Collard Green Phyllo Empanadas, they’re on my blog.
    I like how you used one sheet, and folded it into itself, its so much neater then how I did it. I’d love to try your spanakopitas!

  2. Looks tasty! But if it doesn’t have spinach in it, it isn’t spanakopita. “Pites” (singular form being “pita”) are pies, and the prefix tells you what they’re stuffed with: spanakopita is stuffed with spinach, tyropita is stuffed with cheese, kotopita is stuffed with chicken, etc. If you stuff a pita with random cultivated or wild greens, it’s “hortopita”: http://donair-heiress.blogspot.com/2009/09/hortopita.html

    Also, your seasonings seem a bit odd…although I love the taste of basil, and Greeks do grow a lot of it, it’s grown as an ornamental plant and doesn’t tend to make it into their food. I’d also replace the marjoram with oregano, but they’re probably similar enough that it wouldn’t matter. I’m also weirded out by the cheddar cheese option, but I suppose there might be places where feta isn’t available yet.

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