July 11, 2013

A Family Recipe: Fillo Triangles with Spinach and Cheese

Biting into this flaky, buttery package, filled with cheese and spinach, is a delight. They are perfect as an appetizer, and I can attest that recent guests to my home have loved them. I grew up with these, mostly filled with just cheese; we called them, in Arabic, Imwarrah. As is usual with Syrian pastries, they are a little time consuming to make, but quite easy. They also freeze well before being baked, so I made a large batch and put them in the freezer, taking a few out when needed.

for about 40 pieces: 
1/2 lb fillo pastry dough: the brand my supermarket carries comes with the sheets divided into two packages, which is very convenient.
1/4 lb butter (1 stick), melted
about 20 oz cooked spinach, which is 2 packages frozen, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
a little vegetable oil
1 lb muenster cheese, grated. My mother uses muenster, but I imagine another mild cheese would work.
2 to 3 eggs
salt to taste

You first have to prepare the filling:
Put some oil in a large skillet with the chopped onion; over medium heat, cook until soft and lightly colored. Add the chopped spinach and cook for a few minutes. Then put into a large sieve or colander (I think a sieve is best for the purpose) and drain well. When I conferred with my mother about this recipe, she insisted on the importance of draining the spinach well; otherwise liquid will ooze out of the triangles when they are cooked. I was surprised at how much moisture I could press out of the spinach/onion mixture. When the spinach has drained, place in a bowl and add the grated cheese and eggs. plus salt to taste. If the eggs are very large, you'll need only two.

Remove the fillo from the package and cut the sheets in either halves or thirds lengthwise, depending on their size. Mine were only 9 inches wide, so I cut them in half, yielding a 4 1/2 inch strip. Fold the sheet so that you have about a 3 inch wide strip, and brush it with melted butter. Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling a little down from the top of the strip.

Then start folding the pastry over and over, from one side to the next in a triangular pattern, until you reach the end; you can cut off any small remnant sticking out. Place the pastries as they are completed on a parchment lined baking sheet. 

When all the sheets are filled, brush their tops with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. At this point you can freeze some or all of them; I tray freeze them and when frozen pack them in a rigid container, layers separated with wax paper. To bake, preheat oven to 350º, and bake for about 20 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned. They are truly worth the work of making them.

I had some filling left over, so I put it in a small ramekin and baked it...delicious! This is basically the same recipe as for a zucchini and cheese pie, which I posted here. I think of home and comfort with all these foods.


  1. Thank You!
    Enjoy your recipes, appreciate your paintings.
    Ernestina U.

    1. Thanks so much, Ernestina; I'm glad you're enjoying them.