I recently decided to make a more fancy meal than I normally do. I tend to cook most of my meals from scratch to avoid accidentally eating dairy, but I quite often get into a routine of making the same old stuff over and over again.
So, to shake things up a bit, I decided to make a starter, rather than just make my usual easy salad as a side. I made the relish the day before, and then stored it in a sealed pot in the fridge, and then made the filo parcels on the day.
Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Filo Parcels
10 sheets of ready-made filo pastry
oil / melted butter
250g fresh spinach
soft goats cheese
These parcels were incredibly easy and quick to make. Separating the individual sheets of filo pastry and brushing them with the melted butter takes the longest preparation time, but even this only takes a few minutes (I decided to use vegetable oil as a more healthy substitute, which spread far easier and meant I used a lot less).
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180’C.
2. Take the top sheet of filo pastry and brush with oil / butter. Then take this top layer and place it at the bottom of the pile of pastry. Take the next sheet of pastry and repeat, then take the top two sheets of pastry and place at the bottom of the pile. Repeat until all layers have been covered with oil / butter. (I wasn’t particularly tidy with brushing on the oil, but it doesn’t matter).
3. Steam the spinach in a pan with a little hot water for 2 – 3 minutes until dark green and tender.
4. Cut the pastry into squares measuring about 15cm x 15cm. Then place a spoonful of spinach in the middle of each square. Top with a small amount of goats cheese, and then pinch the corners together over the spinach and cheese to create a parcel shape.
5. Place in oven and cook at 180’C for 15 – 20 mins (until the pastry has turned golden brown and crispy).
These parcels are definitely more tasty when eaten hot, as the cheese melts over the spinach nicely, but they could be eaten cold too.
Spiced Tomato Relish
500g fresh tomatoes (I got a cheap pack at the local supermarket for 80p)
2 cloves of garlic
2 (white) onions
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp mixed spice
75g brown sugar
1. Roughly dice the onion, and crush the garlic. Add to a frying pan with a little oil to soften and brown slightly.
2. Chop up the tomatoes into small chunks, and add to the pan, along with the 2 tablespoons of tomato puree.
3. Add the spices, stir, and simmer until mixture has reduced slightly, and becomes less liquidy.
4. Add sugar, bring to boil whilst stirring, and simmer for 5 mins, then pour into a container and let cool.
For the presentation of the starter, I placed two of the spinach and goats cheese parcels on a plate, and placed a tablespoonful of the spiced tomato relish beside them. The relish really helps bring out the flavour of the filo parcels, and makes for a yummy – and super easy – starter!