Spinach Briouats

When in Morocco these are called briouats (bree-wats). If you nibbled on one in Greece, they would be called spanakopita. If making these in India one might added cooked, diced potatoes and/or peas. In France, the phyllo would merely be wrapped around a disk of chèvre before being sautéed. Regardless of what they may be called, they are easy to make and delicious.

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, fine dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
10 or so fresh mint leaves, minced
2 oz (about 1/2 cup) fresh white goat or Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
¼ cup plumb golden raisins
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 sheets thawed frozen phyllo dough, or more depending on how much filling
Vegetable oil for frying, optional
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible. Leave in colander. 

In a small dry skillet set over medium heat toast pine nuts, stirring often to prevent from burning.  Remove them to a plate and set aside to cool. Return pan to the fire and melt the butter. Pour melted butter into a heat-proof bowl, set aside.

Return the same pan to the fire and add the olive oil. Sauté the onions until they are softened, add the garlic and continue cooking for another 30 seconds or so. Add the spinach and sauté for a minute or two to evaporate any additional water. Remove all to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.

Chop the cooled pine nuts and add to the mixing bowl. Add the minced parsley, mint leaves, cheese, beaten egg, breadcrumbs, raisins and salt and pepper to taste.

Lay a barely damp towel on a half-sheet pan and lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of that. Carefully unwrap the phyllo and unfold it on the plastic wrap. Have ready another towel to cover the phyllo. Take one sheet the long edge of the phyllo closest to you. Cover the remaining phyllo.

Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheet with the melted butter. Divide the dough in half and then each half in thirds or fourths, depending on how big you want the finished appetizer.  Take a teaspoon of the filling (if making smaller) or a heaping teaspoon and set it on the end of the strip (closest to you). Fold the strip as you would the US flag. Brush the end with a bit more butter and fold to close. Repeat the process until all the filling has been used. Rewrap the phyllo dough and return it to the freezer.

If baking, set on a parchment lined sheet pan and brush both sides with a bit more butter. Make for 15 – 18 minutes or until golden brown.

If frying, add a couple of inches of oil to a saucepan and heat to 325 degrees F. Fry until golden on each side, remove to a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.

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