One of my favourite savoury dishes to bake is Spanakopita – any possible variation of it!
When I lived in Rome, my mum used to bake a savoury tart with spinach and ricotta cheese using shortcrust pastry. We call it torta rustica in Italian (which means rustic / savoury cake). It was one of the first dishes I learnt to cook after I moved to London. My pride the first time I baked it!
Then I learnt about Spanakopita and tried making out little triangle parcels of filo pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese. They turned out great and I’ve been making different adaptations of both recipes over the years.
Then yesterday I was flicking through the pages of What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits and Bobs and found a recipe for a veggie roll which sounded a lot like spanakopita, but in a different shape of a roll. Katie calls it ‘veggie roll’ in her book. I decided to make it for lunch and two hours later, voilà!
What I found interesting about this recipe was the mix of ricotta and feta cheeses, so there’s a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. I also liked the addition of breadcrumbs in the filling, I never thought of that but it’s a good way to thicken the soft cheese mixture.
This spanakopita or veggie roll, whatever you wish to call it, is perfect served with some homemade tzatziki and a glass of red wine!
If you’ve never heard of What Katie Ate I highly recommend her blog for the STUNNING food and travel pictures, but also her book because it’s full of interesting savoury and sweet recipes. I particularly love the first chapter about breakfasts – since Kate is an Aussie I am sure she knows a thing or two about cooking amazing breakfast dishes!
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
- 400g fresh spinach, washed and roughly chopped
- 50g pine nuts
- 200g crumbled feta
- 200g ricotta cheese
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated
- 2 free-range eggs
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 400g filo pastry
- 100g butter, melted
- 1 egg yolk
- handful of poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and spring onions and gently cook until browned. Add the spinach and cook for about 5 minutes until wilted, adding a spoonful of water if necessary. Drain and set aside to cool.
Place the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and toast over low heat for a few minutes.
Combine the cheeses, nutmeg and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the spinach, pine nuts and breadcrumbs.
Place one sheet of filo pastry on a clean kitchen counter and brush with a little melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush with butter, then a third and final sheet on top and brush with butter.
Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling evenly along the long edge of pastry, leaving a 2cm gap on each side. Roll up the pastry and filling to form a sausage shape, tucking the sides in as you go. Brush the roll with the egg yolk (previously mixed with a teaspoon of water). Repeat with the remaining filling and pastry.
Place one roll in the middle of a greased round baking tray and form it gently into a spiral. Be careful as the filo pastry can break easily. Take the next roll and join it end-to-end with the first, then continue with the remaining pieces to form a large spiral, brushing with egg wash as you go to seal it all together.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds, then bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown all over.