Sunday, 21 April 2013


Whenever I get my hands on some lovely fresh spinach, the first thing I want to make always seems to be these spinach and cheese parcels.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can relatively easily alter the proportions, add and omit different ingredients and if you follow some simple rules, they should turn out delicious.

Makes 8-9 large parcels

2 large bunches of fresh spinach
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 chorizo sausages, diced
6 rashes of bacon, diced
150g semi dried tomatoes, chopped
200g vintage cheddar cheese, finely grated
500g fresh ricotta, roughly chopped
250g reduced fat fetta, diced
Filo pastry
Fresh thyme leaves & chives, snipped into small lengths
Black pepper, to taste
Spray oil

Pre-heat over at 200 degrees Celsius and take out filo pastry from the freezer.  Still keep the filo in a coolish place.

The first cooking step is to boil the spinach.  

While the bunch is still together, cut off the roots.  Cut the rubber band or string which holds the bunch together and place unwashed spinach leaves straight into a large pot of boiling water.  

Bring back to the boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes.  

This is my cheat’s way to get rid of all the grit from the spinach leaves.  Once the spinach is cooked, pick out the spinach leaves using tongs and place into a colander.  Don’t pour the pot of spinach and water into the colander.  This process of using tongs allows all the dirt and grit to be left behind with the water.

Rinse the cooked spinach leaves under cold water then squeeze out as much water as you can.  Note: You want your filo parcel mix as dry as possible so that your pastry stays crispy.  Chop up cooked spinach leaves.

In a frypan, toast pinenuts over a medium heat.  Tip: Don’t walk away as nuts can burn really easily.  Place nuts aside in a bowl once done.

Using the same frypan, brown the diced bacon and chorizo sausage.  Note: You don’t need to add any oil to the pan as these are fatty enough.

Once ready, drain the bacon and chorizo onto paper towel to soak up the excess fat.

Once all items are cooled, in a large bowl combine spinach, bacon, chorizo, pinenuts, diced semi dried tomatoes, finely grated vintage cheddar, ricotta, feta, thyme and chives and a few good turns of freshly cracked black pepper.  Mix well.

Carefully unroll the filo pastry.  Take one sheet and place it onto a board.  Using canned oil, spray a light coating all over the single filo pastry sheet.  Place a second sheet on top of the oiled first one.  Tip: To minimise holes in your filo parcel, rotate the second sheet so that if there are continuous holes throughout the packet of filo, they won’t marry up in your parcel.  Also another tip, if your kitchen is hot, place a damp tea towel over the top of your unused filo.  This will attempt to minimise your pastry from drying out too quickly.

Place a large scoop of filling on the filo off centre like the image below.

Spray another light layer onto the filo around the filling.  Fold top and bottom sides in, over the top of the filling.

Spray filo again and fold until you have your final parcel.

Transfer your finished parcels onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Spray the top of each parcel with canned oil to ensure a lovely golden top.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius or until golden brown.

Serve warm.

Tip:  These are great for freezing.  Just place each uncooked parcel into its individual freezer bag.  When you want one, simply pop a frozen filo parcel into the oven, no need to defrost.  About 30 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius or until golden brown and hot in the centre.

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