Growing up my family never really ate convenience foods. There were no freezer dinners, no hamburger helper, no pop tarts, and no hot pockets. I was always intrigued by those forbidden foods since the commercials made them looks so appetizing and my brother and I were definitely known to beg and plead to try them. Finally, when I was about 10 my mom agreed to let us get the boxed mac n cheese, but only if I was going to make it myself and only for special occasions, like when we had a babysitter.
As I got older I had the opportunity to try some of the other foods that I had salivated over for years and years and time and time again I found them to be highly disappointing. They always tasted sort of cardboardy and fake. And, yet, even today the allure of those foods that patiently wait for you in your freezer, ready to miraculously turn into a meal is a strong one. So, when I have the time, I try to stock my freezer with homemade versions. Empanadas are a favorite, as are black bean burgers, and this week I have a new one to share with you: spinach and cheese toaster pastries.
I love these things. The filling reminds me of spanikopita, but the outside is heartier and easier to handle than phyllo dough. I love them so much that I even cheated on my no-wheat-until-dinner practice just because I couldn’t resist having another. Another perk is that while they may appear to be complicated, they are actually very simple to make and work beautifully for any meal of the day (trust me, I’ve tried).
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup onion, chopped (about ½ a small onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 ½ cups frozen chopped spinach
- ¼ cup feta
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup cold, unsalted butter
- ½ cup ice cold water
- 1 egg beaten with a little bit of water
- Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a small pot over a medium-high heat. When it is hot, but not yet smoking, add the onion and sauté until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the frozen spinach and stir, breaking up any big chunks. When the spinach is cooked, turn off the heat and add the feta, ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg. Stir well, breaking up any big chunks of feta. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, combine the flour and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Pulse once or twice to combine. Chop up the cold butter into small chunks and distribute evenly in the food processor. Run the food processor until the mixture looks like a crumbly meal. Turn the food processor back on and add ⅓ cup of the cold water into the mixture in a stead stream. Watch for the dough to come together into a ball (it is ok if it is not all in one ball. If most of it is together and there are some pieces off the side, just combine it with your hands). If it needs some more water, add it 2 or so teaspoons at a time.
- When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter top or cutting board. Sprinkle some flour on top and roll it out into as even a rectangle as you can, until it is at most ¼-inch thick. Trim the rectangle to make it even, using the trimmings as needed to even out the sides.
- Divide the rectangle into 16 even rectangles. Take eight of those rectangles and lay them out on the baking sheet. Put 1 ½ tablespoons of the spinach mixture into the center of each of the eight rectangles. Evenly distribute any leftover spinach mixture. Lay the other eight pieces of dough on top of the first ones and seal the sides together with a fork and poke a few holes in the top. Brush the egg wash over the top of them.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold and store in your fridge for 3 days or the freezer for 3 months.