With the amazing hot weather we’ve been enjoying recently I really haven’t felt much like baking. Certainly not bread, a staple of Baby BB’s diet, and so he has been reduced to eating a lot of buttermilk pancakes (adapted and made with ricotta instead). But small people cannot live on pancakes alone, and so I have with heavy heart (and hot hands) turned my attention to other finger-friendly and portable foods that can be eaten hot or cold and with minimal input from me (Baby BB is very much averse to self-feeding using cutlery, particularly spoons – no idea why). And that feature vegetables.
Personally I adore spinach, but I appreciate that many people don’t and I imagine this includes small people. The addition of feta cheese and pine nuts makes the whole thing much more palatable to those not convinced by Pop-Eye and encasing it all in crispy, buttery pastry is simply the icing on the cake. A health food these are not, but as part of a varied diet I think they’re fine (even as part of a not-so-varied toddler diet they’re still fine). There is quite a lot of salt in the feta though, so maybe restrict to one a day for the under 3s. I have yet to find a reduced salt feta, probably a contradiction in terms (much like diet, caffeine free cola according to my mother), but am open to suggestions.
Makes 12 parcels
Ingredients:6 sheets filo pastry (I like this brand) 200g spinach 100-200g feta cheese 1 onion 2 cloves garlic Olive/rapeseed oil nutmeg (optional) 30-50g Pine nuts (optional)
Chop the onion finely and crush the garlic cloves. I love garlic (so Baby BB is learning to love it too) and used 2 large cloves, but it’s a matter of personal choice. Leave it out altogether if you want. Saute the onion (and garlic) in some oil in a large frying pan (you will be adding the spinach etc later) and gently cook over a low heat until softened, up to 10 minutes. At the same time, put the pine nuts (if using) into a small pan and dry-fry over a medium heat for around 3-4 minutes, until they have started to colour. Be careful though as you don’t want to burn them (easily done). Turn the heat off and set aside.
When the onions and garlic are soft, add the spinach (washed and cut if in large pieces) a little at time, stirring it round to make sure it wilts. Continue doing this until all of the spinach has been added. next, crumble in the feta cheese (or cut up into small chunks) and add to the vegetable mix along with the pine nuts. Give everything a quick stir to combine and then turn off the heat.
When you are ready to assemble the filo parcels, pre-heat the oven to 200C/350F/Gas Mark 5 and prepare a baking tray (or just use a non-stick one). On a large work surface/chopping board, lay out a sheet of filo pastry and fold in two/three so that you get a sheet roughly 4-5 times as long as it its wide. Put a dollop of the spinach/feta mix at one end (step 1) and then fold the filo pastry over to make a triangle (step 2).
Continue doing this until you come almost to the end of the filo pastry; i.e. only one more fold can be made. Brush the pastry with melted butter and fold over to seal. Ta-da. Then brush more melted butter over the top and place on the baking tray. Continue until you have 12 parcels (or however many you can get out of the spinach/feta mix) (stage 3).
Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the parcels are starting to colour and crisp up (step 4). Remove from the oven and leave to cool until ready to eat/freeze.