I have been on such an Ina Garten kick lately!  Receiving a couple of her cookbooks for Christmas really reminded me how much I love her recipes.  The books inspire me with her simple yet delicious recipes and beautiful pictures.  I make something of hers at least once a week now!  I have only made spanakopita once before, as an appetizer at the first ever dinner party I ever threw.  It actually turned out pretty well at that time, especially considering I had never worked with phyllo dough before.  Phyllo really isn’t difficult to work with, you just have to be gentle with it.  I find that a little patience goes a long way in the kitchen, and this recipe is a great example.  The filling is a cinch to throw together, so as long as you don’t have issues with phyllo, this is a simple yet elegant dinner.  

These strudels are very rich so I would recommend serving them with a light side dish like a simple green salad.  The only thing I will change next time I make these will be to chop the pine nuts up a bit before adding them to the filling mixture, as Ben and I both thought the whole nuts made for an odd texture.  Also, Ina recommends sprinkling a small amount of bread crumbs on each sheet of phyllo during the layering process, but I skipped this step and they were still wonderfully flaky so I’m not sure it’s necessary.  Otherwise, this is a great vegetarian dinner!

Dinner Spanakopitas
Yield: 6 strudels

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup small-crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts, chopped
12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.  Add the green onions and cook for another 2 minutes until they are wilted but still green.  Meanwhile, add the thawed and drained spinach to a large mixing bowl.  When the onions are done, add them to the bowl.  Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoons bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Gently fold in the feta and the pine nuts. 

Place one sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface.  Brush the dough lightly with butter.  Working quickly, place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first, and brush it lightly with butter.  Continue this process until you have a stack of 4 sheets of phyllo.  Cut the stack of phyllo in half lengthwise (I found a pizza cutter useful for this step).  Place 1/3 cup of the spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag.  Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again.  Continue folding the first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet.  The filling should be totally enclosed.  Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used.  Place on a sheet pan, seam sides down.  Brush the tops with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked salt (I used kosher) and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp.  Serve hot. 

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten