Spinach and olive phyllo cigars with a lovely sundried tomato yogurt dip
Do you have an unhealthy addiction to spanakopita? Here is a very simple alternative with loads more flavour and it just so happens to be much easier to make.
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/3 cup olive tapenade
½ cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp cumin
2 cups plain 3.5% yogurt, strained
¼ cup Sundried tomatoes, in olive oil, finely minced
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, grated with a zester
salt to taste
Allow an hour for the phyllo dough to thaw at room temperature.
To strain the yogurt place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the yogurt into the sieve. Place it in the fridge for at least on hour or up to three and allow gravity to draw out the excess moisture leaving a nice thick yogurt behind in the sieve. Combine the thickened strained yogurt with finely minced (or pureed) sundried tomatoes, white balsamic vinegar, grated garlic and salt to taste. The salt will depend entirely on how salty the sundried tomatoes are.
Thaw the spinach in the microwave. When it cools squeeze out the excess liquid so it is very dry.
Place spinach into a bowl and add the olive tapenade and egg. Mix thoroughly to combine.
Get your butter and cumin in a small pot and melt the butter over low heat.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Place your melted butter and spinach mixture near your cigar rolling station.
Unroll the thawed phyllo dough onto a clean work surface. Cover with a clean damp tea towel as it will dry out very quickly.
Get one sheet of paper thin delicate phyllo dough onto your rolling station and using a pastry brush gently apply a sparse layer of melted butter.
Place another sheet directly onto the first sheet and brush with butter.
Now that you have two layers of phyllo, you can place a long strip of spinach mixture one inch from the bottom edge of the phyllo. Fold over the phyllo flap and carefully roll up a long tight cigar.
Roll until you reach half way, then cut the cigar away. Repeat on the top half with spinach and roll it up again all the way to the end.
Line up the two long cigars and cut them into 3-4 inch batons. Transfer the cigars onto a parchment lined baking sheet leaving some space between each cigar to allow them to brown evenly. Make sure the seam of the pastry is facing down. Brush the tops with butter.
When you have a full tray, blap them into the oven and bake until the pastry is golden and flakey. About 8-12 depending on how much spinach is inside.
Allow them to cool to room temperature and serve with a bowl of the yogurt dip.
The remaining phyllo can be rolled up, wrapped tightly in plastic and refrozen.
Makes 16-20 cigars
Appetizer served on January 16th at the Magrath showhome: 307 Magrath Blvd, Edmonton, Alberta