Spinach, Leek and Feta Phyllo Cups
I’m a fervent fan of antipasti, tapas style eating, small plates and appetizers. Sometimes I just prefer the “little taste of everything” approach to dining, and other times, it perfectly fits the mood of an event or party to have platters of beautiful little bites available to guests. I realized recently that I share far too few of these recipes on here, so here’s a tasty appetizer recipe for you.
In the mood to experiment on a day off of work last week, I decided it was time to try my hand at making a savory appetizer featuring phyllo dough. I have worked with phyllo dough twice when making desserts, but I always had an extra set of hands on standby. This time, I was on my own. I’m going to advise you, if you’ve never worked with phyllo dough before, it’s a sensitive and delicate creature. It needs gentle and steady hands to treat it right. Consider yourself warned.
I used the base of my “Greek pizza” topping — spinach, leeks, onions and garlic — to make a new appetizer that called upon a few of my favorite flavors from spanakopita. I took phyllo dough sheets and turned them into cups, as I learned last year from a dessert recipe, and then stuffed them with feta cheese, greens and onions, and more feta. Here’s the recipe I concocted:
Spinach, Leek and Feta Phyllo Cups
- 2 garlic cloves, 1 minced and 1 smashed and left whole
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Dash of salt
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 of a pound of feta cheese (whole block, if possible)
- ~3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- To keep phyllo dough at optimum temperature for working with, set it aside covered with plastic wrap or beneath a damp cheesecloth or dish towel.
- Melt butter in large skillet. Add garlic, onions and leeks. Sauté over medium low heat for about 3 minutes. Turn heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
- Stir mixture with wooden spoon every few minutes, until softened. Add spinach. Cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and discard whole garlic. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, arrange one sheet of phyllo dough on a clean workspace and set muffin tin nearby.
- Take a sheet of phyllo and brush with olive oil. Lay another sheet on top and repeat until you have four sheets stacked up. (Use five sheets if you want them even thicker.) Cut into small squares and press into cups. It’s okay for the edges to overlap and create a cup with flared edges. You may also fold them into that same size/shape. I did some both ways to experiment.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes or until phyllo cups are lightly golden brown on edges.
The result was a delicious little snack that was a hit at a party. I plan to make these again soon and swap out the fillings with various sweet and savory ingredients. Goat cheese, figs, caramelized onions and walnuts? Sounds divine. Brie and mushrooms, topped with arugula, with the brie melting into sauteed mushrooms and the fresh arugula wilting ever so slightly from the heat of them beneath. Cream cheese, strawberry balsamic jam and pecans, topped with fresh strawberries in the summer.
There are countless options to explore, so use your imagination here. The phyllo cups are a canvas for your own favorite pairings. Think about a dish with ingredients you love and see if you can deconstruct the best parts to turn it into a filling for these cups.
Several sheets of phyllo dough were lost in the making of this appetizer. Next time, I vow to do better!