Mum’s spinach triangles.

You could think of this as a sort of spanakopita, though when I was growing up they were just “spinach triangles”, which Mum made all the time, never failing to warn me how tricky filo pastry can be. A few years ago I asked for the recipe and took down some rough notes, but only just made a batch for myself. After so many years watching (and subconsciously absorbing the pastry advice — thanks Mum!) it all felt like second nature and tasted just like home.

{ Recipe from my Mum. }
Makes enough for two adults to have three each, and several more for leftovers.

Gather:
1 pack of filo pastry¹

2 bunches of chard or silverbeet
1 small bunch of fresh dill, leaves and small stems only

4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (or 2 small onions)
1 leek or a couple of shallots/spring onions
4 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper
1 vegetable bouillon cube, or a teaspoon of vegetable stock powder

3–4 eggs (3 would be enough, 4 definitely is)
500 g firm, Greek-style feta cheese, crumbled up²
250 g shredded cheddar cheese
A bit more salt and pepper

Plenty of olive oil (or other neutral oil) for brushing
A pastry brush³

Then:

  1. If you’re using frozen filo pastry, take it out of the freezer about 3 hours ahead of time. The instructions might say to defrost it in the fridge to avoid excess condensation that can make it soggy, but I did about 1 hour in the fridge and 2 hours on the bench, and didn’t have any problems.
  2. Wash your silverbeet/chard, and strip the fleshy leaves from the fibrous stems. You can discard the stems (or save them for a stock or pesto or something?)
  3. Chop the leaves into about 2-inch chunks, and set aside on a kitchen towel to drain/dry slightly.
  4. Finely slice/dice the onion, leek/shallot and garlic. Set aside.

  5. Add the four tablespoons of olive oil to a very large/deep frying pan or saucepan, over low–medium heat on the stove. Add the chopped onion, leek/shallot and garlic before the pan gets too hot, and sauté until everything has started to soften.
  6. When the alliums have softened, season with salt and pepper, and add the bouillon cube/stock powder. Stir until dissolved.
  7. Add the silverbeet/chard and dill, stir gently and cover for a few minutes — this will look like an insurmountable amount of green, but it will wilt down quickly.

  8. While the spinach is wilting, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork in the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
  9. Add the two cheeses, season with salt and pepper, and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  10. The spinach etc. should be all wilted down by now…

    … so transfer it into the mixing bowl with the cheese/egg mixture, leaving behind as much of the liquid as possible (to avoid a sloppy filling). Mix until everything is evenly distributed.
  11. At this point you could cover your mixing bowl and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours, so the filling has a chance to cool/solidify somewhat. But if you don’t have time for that, go straight ahead and…
  12. … preheat your oven to 415ºF (about 215ºC). Line a couple of baking trays with foil or parchment paper.
  13. When your oven is ready to go, it’s time to start filling triangles. If you put your spinach/egg mixture in the fridge, take it out now.
  14. Carefully unroll your filo pastry onto the benchtop. Don’t separate any of the layers — you should have a stack of pastry sheets (annoyingly as thin and fragile as gold leaf) sitting on top of one plastic sheet/wrapper.
  15. Put some olive oil (I used grapeseed oil) into a small bowl, and get your pastry brush ready.
  16. Brush a little oil all over the top sheet of pastry.
  17. Fold that sheet in half along the Y axis — you’ll have a long, narrower, double-thickness sheet to work with.
  18. Place a few tablespoons of the spinach/egg mixture in the bottom left of this sheet, making sure you leave about a centimetre margin.
  19. Fold the bottom right corner over the filling and up to the diagonally opposite left-hand edge of the pastry, to form the first triangle.
  20. Carefully flip the bottom-left corner up to the diagonally opposite right-hand edge of the pastry. Your view after this second fold should be something like this:
  21. Flip the triangle straight up along that X axis now, then flip the whole thing over to the left to finish the triangle — your parcel will be enclosed in several layers of pastry now. Carefully transfer your parcel to a lined baking tray, and tuck under any loose edges of pastry.
  22. Repeat steps 16–21 until all your filling is used. (The filling-to-pastry ratio is about right, but you might have a bit of pastry left; no point having leftover filling but no pastry!)
  23. Pop them in the oven and bake until they’re golden brown on top — about 15–20 minutes, but keep an eye on them. Don’t worry if some burst and a bit of melty cheese comes out the sides — that’s kind of the best bit.
  24. Serve hot, with a simple side salad. Leftovers do very nicely in the fridge for a few days, or individually wrapped and frozen for months. Just defrost them then pop them in the oven to crisp up again.

 

Notes:
¹ Mum prefers non-frozen and says it’s easier to work with, but frozen is all I could get and it wasn’t a problem!
² Mum uses cottage cheese here, which will be lighter and less salty. Feta is richer and saltier, so I guess go with what you feel like!
³ Silicone is best. I have this in my recipe notes “rubbery paintbrush”.

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