On the days we volunteer to staff the tables at our weekly downtown walk, we like to bring a little something. Sometimes it’s a sweet treat, sometimes salty, and sometimes, as this post reflects, something savory. The real key is that the treats need to be easy to pick up and eat. Easy to transport, and good either hot or cold. So, for a long time we thought of spanakopita, or spinach cheese pies. Often these are made into little (or not so little) folded triangles so people can pick them up and eat them right out of hand. But we thought that the triangles might be a bit on the large size. We wanted to go for something about bite-sized.
Well, we thought about little pillows, or very small triangles, then decided on making something akin to an eggroll. Small, round, about the size of a Tater Tot: the spanakopitot was born! Never having made spanakopitots before, we just winged it, figuring that the worst that could happen would be that no one would want to eat any.
This will work with commercial phyllo dough, too. The commercial dough is much thinner, so you might have to fold a sheet in fourths (with butter between each layer), but it should end up even crispier than homemade phyllo. We just like to practice making phyllo at home. Also, you’ll probably have extra filling leftover, so make a small spanakopita for later (or, as we did, make small beggars’ purses with the leftover filling).
Procedure in detail:
Make (or thaw) phyllo. If you’re going to make your own phyllo dough, you need to start it 24 hours in advance. Of course, if you use the frozen phyllo, it takes 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator, too. Either way, plan ahead.
Make filling. This is simply a measure and mix recipe, so just follow the recipe here. You can make it 24 hours in advance without any problem.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Roll phyllo. Roll out a small piece (about 1/8th) of the phyllo dough as thin as you can. Ideally, you should be able to read a newspaper through a piece. We’re never close to that, but we’re trying to get better. After all, much of baking and cooking is simply practice. Most times, we just run pieces of the dough through our pasta machine to get it is thin as we can.
Cut phyllo. Cut the phyllo dough into squares about 3 to 4 inches on a side. Tuck any scraps inside the remaining dough to re-roll in the next batch.
Brush with butter. Using a pastry brush, or even your fingers brush the square of phyllo with just a bit of butter. This will help keep the rolled layers separated when baked; plus, it’ll add flavor. Butter flavor.
Roll. Place a teaspoon of filling on the edge of a square of phyllo and roll, tucking in the sid as you go, into something resembling a small eggroll. Don’t worry, it took us about a half-dozen tries to get rolls that looked good. Those malformed rolls are for the chef to try. Once rolled, place on a prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between rolls.
Brush with butter. Lightly brush the outside of the rolls with butter, for more browning and crisping action.
Bake. Slide the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until browned and crisp (they will crisp slightly as they cool, too).
These were a real hit. Everyone seemed to just love them, partly because they’re more of a savory snack — our walk is right near dinner time — so it’s more of an appetizer than a dessert. We loved them, too, though we do wish that the rolls had gotten just a bit browner and crispier while baking. Ah, well you can’t have everything. For a great snack, we’ll give the spanakopitots four stars. They are fiddly to roll up.