Mood: Creative! Spinach Phyllo Casserole

A while back, I was at a friends house and she went through an enormous amount of effort to make a delicious dinner for me and husband who were at the time expecting the little lion.  What a gorgeous treat to be waited on and have dinner cooked for me.  When I asked what we were having, she said it was a spinach and feta pie.  Confession, I almost died inside because for years I have believed that Feta was the devil.  Gasp, Shock…I know, awful.  I have never been a huge cheese fan, just here and there and Feta just never appealed to me, I would always pick it out of the greek salad.  I knew that I couldn’t disappoint my friend who went through all that trouble so I tried it.  Man, am I sooooo glad I did because I ended up loving it.  HA!  Who knew, all of these years I have been missing out.

I still dream about that delicious Spinach and Feta Pie and decided it was time to make up my own version of it.  This version is kinda casserole style and it serves around 6 people.  I love this version because I can make it for my family one night and then have it for left overs the following day.  It’s a time saver and a it holds up well.  It’s reminiscent of a spanakopita but with a few little twists…’moodified’ if you will.

First I like to make the filling.  In a mixing bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, feta cheese, egg, lemon zest, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and salt and pepper.

Getting started on the cheese part of the filling

Getting started on the cheese part of the filling

 

When it’s all mixed together, it will look like this:

IMG_0948

Next you want to sauté onions in 1 Tbsp EVOO for 2-3 minutes until they are translucent.  Add chopped garlic and let that cook with the onions for another minute.

onions

onions

Add your chopped spinach and mix around with the onions and garlic.  When the spinach is wilted, its done.

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Next take that spinach mixture and place it in a mesh colander.  Use the back of your wooden spoon to squeeze out any excess water.  Believe me, this step is essential because if not, you will end up having a majorly soggy dish.  Spinach releases so much water when cooked so you definitely want to squeeze it out.  If you don’t have a mesh colander, place the mix in to a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water.  Your call.  Sorry folks…I didn’t get a picture of me doing this.  Kinda hard to take certain action shots when i’m already using both hands.  Remember…I’m just using my phone camera for these shots and i’m not that coordinated at the best of times.

Add the spinach and onion mixture to the cheese mixture and stir.  Now your filling is ready.

Here's what the filling looks like for the casserole.  Yum!

Here’s what the filling looks like for the casserole. Yum!  Even my spatula is happy about it!!

Next get out your lasagna pan or casserole dish and grease it.  I used Olive Oil Spray and I sprayed both the bottom and the sides.  Get your phyllo pastry sheets out and get ready to rock.  You gotta work quick here because phyllo pastry dries out really quick.  Place your first sheet at the bottom of the pan with some of the sides folded over.  Brush with melted butter.

Let the assembly begin.

Let the assembly begin.

Add the next sheet of phyllo and then brush with butter.  Repeat this step until you have about 6-7 pieces of phyllo on the bottom of the pan. IMG_0953

Now you are ready to add that glorious spinach and cheese mixture

IMG_0954

 

Now you want to get that phyllo ready to layer the top.  Follow the exact same method until you have 6 or 7 sheets on the top layer.  Now you are probably wondering, what the heck do i do with all that pastry hanging over the sides??  Well my friends, I have 2 options for you…1) cut it off and discard or 2) find a way to incorporate it.  *I chose the second option…so here goes!

Fold the excess phyllo towards the inside of the dish.  Rolling tight to make a little crust

Fold the excess phyllo towards the inside of the dish. Rolling tight and pinching it to make a little crust

You want to start to roll the excess dough in to the inside of the pan to create a bit of a crust.  Seriously, you won’t regret it, that stuff is going to crunch up majorly and be absolutely amazing!!  Once you are done, it should look like this:

Ready to be baked in the oven.  Can't wait to see the finished product.

Ready to be baked in the oven. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

Before you place in the oven, I highly recommend pre-cutting this in advance.  Because Phyllo dough is soooo crunchy when baked, you don’t want it to break in to a million pieces and end up looking like a dogs breakfast on a plate.  Spend the extra 20 seconds and pre-cut it before you place it in the oven.  Trust me, this will save you major frustration come serving time.

IMG_0957

Now place in your oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Just be sure to keep your eye on it because you don’t want the pastry to burn.  All of your hard work would go out the window.  Once it’s ready, it will look like this little beauty!

Look at this beauty!!

Look at this beauty!!

 

Spinach and Phyllo Casserole

Spinach and Phyllo Casserole

Spinach Phyllo Casserole and a simple side salad

Spinach Phyllo Casserole and a simple side salad

 

Spinach Phyllo Casserole

  • 1 cup of crumbled feta
  • 1 small tub of ricotta cheese (454g or roughly 1.5 cups)
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion diced fine
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 5 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter melted
  • 1 pkg of phyllo pastry sheets

Directions

  1. Mix feta, ricotta, lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes, egg and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well and set aside
  2. Place extra virgin olive oil in a pan on medium/high heat.  Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add chopped garlic and sauté for 1 minute
  4. Add spinach and mix around until wilted
  5. squeeze out the water from the spinach (By placing in a mesh colander and using the back of a spoon to press the mix against the colander which will squeeze the water out or place mix in a clean tea towel and squeeze.
  6. Add spinach, onion mixture to the cheese mixture and mix until completely combined
  7. Preheat oven to 350
  8. Get out a lasagna pan and grease it both on the bottom and the sides of the pan.
  9. Layer 1 sheet of phyllo at a time at the bottom of the pan, then brush with melted butter.  Repeat until 6 or 7 sheets are on the bottom
  10. Add your filling
  11. Repeat phyllo pastry steps for the top, making sure you have about 6 or 7 sheets
  12. Start to roll the sides of the overhanging phyllo towards the inside of the dish, rolling quite tight which will make a crust.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown.

This dish serves about 6 people and is seriously awesome.  It works well on it’s own or you can do what I did and make a super simple side salad and then get to enjoy this at least 2 nights in a row 🙂 It has everything you love in a dish, it’s light, has a hint of lemon, cheesy and has a delicious crunch to it.  I think it’s a winner!!

IMG_0965

Hope you enjoy this casserole my moody little friends!!!

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