Give your kids’ lunchboxes a twist of interest with these gluten-free spinach and feta bites
Way back when I first started this blog, one of the first things I did was to write a list of all the foods that I wished were gluten-free. Filo pastry was at the top of that list. Gluten-free filo pastry. Now there’s a happy thought.
Imagine enjoying that super-crisp, super-thin pastry again. And all the Greek delights you could enjoy once more. Gluten-free Spanakopita, gluten-free baklava. …. Uh, what? … Sorry. I must have slipped into a dreamy trance for a moment.
Gluten-free filo pastry: Does it exist?
Anyway, gluten-free filo pastry (or gluten-free phyllo pastry) does exist, if you make it. The legendary Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog has a gluten-free filo pastry recipe that seems reasonable enough – it even comes with a recipe for Spanakopita – but it does use a product called Expandex, which isn’t available in Australia. From what I can gather, Expandex is a modified tapioca starch, so you may be able to make the recipe using a normal tapioca starch in the same quantities. But perhaps the results won’t be as good.
The thing for me, though, is that I’m not great with pastry. I’ve never been good at making it, and even handling it seems to be a challenge. So I’m not the kind of cook who wants to jump in and make my own gluten-free filo pastry from scratch. I’m also time poor, which presents an additional challenge. Are you with me? I’ll bet.
I just want to mosey up to the refrigerator section of my local supermarket and help myself to a box of commercially produced, gluten-free filo pastry. Wait … Sorry. Dream-like trance has taken over again.
Yeah, so that’s hardly likely to happen at least in the short term. Probably because it’s HARD to make a good gluten-free filo pastry. But again, I’m just guessing. Never tried it and I doubt I ever will. At least not until I have a granite bench top in my kitchen, just so I can work some pastry magic (dreaming again).
In the meantime, I’ll put up with my awful old laminate bench tops (or whatever they’re made of. I don’t really know because my kitchen’s that ancient).
Greek flavours without the pastry
It is possible to enjoy some Greek flavours, minus the pastry. It’s spinach and silverbeet season at the moment and between my parents and my neighbours, I seem to have abundant access to the good stuff. So it seemed logical to create a recipe.
Apart from all the great health benefits, one of the reasons I love spinach and silverbeet is that you can cook it and then freeze it, ready for the next time you feel like popping it into your cooking.
Whilst I appreciate that many kids don’t like their greens, these bites are small enough for them to sample. And you may not really care about whether the kids like them. I sure didn’t! They make a great lunchbox addition for grown-ups too, and they’re really filling.
Christmas finger food
While I’m at it, I hate to scare you, but Christmas season is fast approaching. That means parties and cocktails and – eek! – the need for finger food. Having to come up with gluten-free finger food can scare the pants off some people, but if you arm yourself with these little gems, you can confidently go forth and conquer your guests’ taste buds.
And just quietly, I think that a bit of chopped fresh dill would work a treat in this recipe. Yummo!
Gluten-free spinach and feta bites – serving suggestions
Serve in lunchboxes with some vegetable sticks and sliced cooked chicken breast. Or, as fingerfood with a dipping sauce made up of Greek yogurt, a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped dill.
Looking for some more finger food recipes? Try my gluten-free recipes for Balsamic Rosemary and Sea Salt Scrolls, Corn and Bacon Mini Frittatas and Cheesy Corn Fritters. Recipes in my eCookbook.
Gluten-free spinach and feta bites – Ingredients
1 large bunch of fresh spinach (or silverbeet) (approximately 320g)
110 g ricotta cheese
100 g feta cheese
15 g chopped spring onions (green part only)
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Gluten-free spinach and feta bites – method
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius (conventional oven) or 160° Celsius (fan-forced oven). Grease and line 12 cavities in a mini-muffin tray (50 millilitre capacity).
Roughly chop leaves of spinach (or silverbeet). Rinse thoroughly. Put in large pot with water covering the bottom. Cover and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook until wilted (approximately 5 minutes). Move from heat and allow to cool a little.
Drain spinach and transfer to a dry, clean tea towel. Use towel to squeeze out excess liquid from spinach. Squeeze out as much as possible.
Put spinach in the bowl of a food processor. Add other ingredients.
Process until well combined. If necessary, add a drizzle of olive oil to loosen up the mixture.
Spoon mixture into muffin tray cavities. Press down with back of spoon to compact the mixture. Fill each cavity.
Bake for 15 minutes.