Swiss Chard and Feta Cheese Cigarillos
One Friday morning Konstantina, a Greek lady that worked with me, came into the kitchen and asked if I would like to try a bit it of her mothers Spanikopita. As I did not need to be invited twice I rushed over to her work station to find a cardboard box all crumpled and covered with postage stamps. I asked her where it came from? Konstantina replied, with a mouthful of Sapnikopita and a frown on her face, Greece, where my mother lives.
Well as we say the rest is history as I tucked in and gorged on the most delicious Greek delicacy. Konstnatina told me that her mother does not actually buy any greens but she goes into the fields to pick Chard that grows wild. I went away creating this dish inspired by Konstantina’s Greek Mothers Spanikopita that came in the post. I am not sure if I would do her justice, but I loved the twist of using chard as it gives the dish a different dimension almost an earthy taste. Whenever I eat chard I will always remember that Friday morning.
- 700g Swiss or red chard
- 1tbs olive oil
- 1tsp oregano, chopped
- 1tbs parsley, chopped
- 200g Greek feta cheese
- 200g spring onion, chopped
- 200g onion, diced
- 100g Panko honey breadcrumbs
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- pinch of each turmeric and nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 12 sheets of filo pastry
- melted butter
- sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wash the chard; remove the stalks from the green leaves. Dice the stalks approximately 5mm long and julienne the green leaves, keep them separate.
Heat a non-stick frying pan with the olive oil. Sauté the onions, garlic, and the stalks of the chard with seasoning ,for 5 minutes until it starts to turn transparent. Add the chopped chard leaves and cook for one minute, just so that the leaves start to wilt. Transfer the mix to a colander and let the mixture cool while draining.
Place the cooled chard mixture, chopped spring onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, chopped oregano and parsley, turmeric, nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Mix until all the ingredients are combined, crumb the feta cheese over the mix and lightly fold this in to the mixture.
Lay the filo pastry out on to a clean work surface and cover with a damp clean tea towel. Take one sheet at a time, cut the sheet in half, brush lightly with the melted butter and spoon a tablespoon full of chard mixture on one end. Fold the ends in to cover the mix and roll the filo pastry in the shape of a cigar, brush each cigarillo with melted butter and dust with sesame seeds. Place the cigarillos on a lined baking sheet leave at least a 2cm gap to allow them to cook evenly. Complete the rest of the cigarillos.
Bake the cigarillos for 18 – 20 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Once cooked transfer them to a cooling rack to prevent the filo pastry from sweating and going soggy. Serve the cigarillos either hot or cold as a canapé or a starter. You could make larger parcels for a main course or snack.
Makes approximately 24 x 10cm cigarillos