Spinach, feta, mint and pine nut filo parcels

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Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes


By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

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These snacks can be found throughout Turkey and Greece in one form or another. You’ll find filo spirals filled with a mixture like this and sprinkled with nigella seeds on the streets of Istanbul, and similar triangles in the Greek shops in Melbourne. They are great eaten on the run, as part of a picnic, or as a first course with a green salad. You can make the mixture up to 2 days in advance.


  • 500 g small-leaf spinach (don’t bother removing the stalks if the leaves aren’t too large)
  • 12 mint leaves, shredded
  • 150 g butter
  • 100 g pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (I used a mixture of black and white)
  • 200 g feta cheese, roughly broken into small cubes
  • 16 sheets of filo pastry, about 30xl2cm


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Wash the spinach thoroughly, then drain it well in a colander. Heat a wide pan and cook it over a high heat – the moisture still clinging to the leaves should be enough to steam it. The spinach will be easier to cook in 3–4 batches, tossing it with tongs to wilt it. As each batch is cooked, tip it into the colander to drain. Once all of the spinach is cooked, lay it on a flat tray to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess water and place in a bowl with the mint.

Heat the butter in a small frying pan and cook until it just begins to go a nut-brown colour. Tip the butter into a bowl, then put the pan back on the heat – ideally with a little of the butter still in it. Add the pine nuts and cook over a moderate heat until they become golden, stirring or shaking the pan to prevent them burning. Add two-thirds of the sesame seeds to the pan and lightly toast them, then tip the seeds and nuts over the spinach. Add the feta and a little salt and pepper and mix together.

Keeping the filo in one pile, take off one sheet, lay it on a work surface so that one of the short sides faces towards you and brush the sheet generously with some of the melted butter. Lay another sheet on top and brush that with butter. Take one-eighth of the filling, a piece about the size of a golf ball, and place it just in from the bottom left-hand corner. Taking the bottom right-hand corner, fold it diagonally over to the left side. Now take the pointed end facing you, and fold it away from you, keeping the left-hand side of the pastry even and straight. Using the longest side of the triangular ‘package’ you have made, fold it diagonally so that the bottom left-hand corner moves to the right-hand side. Now lift the bottom right-hand corner away from you, sealing the filling inside the many layers of filo. Tidy up any pastry overhangs, brush with butter and flip the triangle over, sealing the pastry seams. Do the same with the remaining filling and sheets of pastry. Brush with the remaining butter – if you run out melt some more.

Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds and bake until golden, about 20–25 minutes. Take from the oven and serve warm, or leave to cool and eat within 48 hours if kept in the fridge. They can also be reheated to crisp them up a little.