Spinach Cheese Puffs

spinach-puffs.jpg

I think I may have mentioned before that I love appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Just love them. My favorite kind of work event is one where they serve drinks and “heavy appetizers” or “passed hors d’oeuvres,” because I know that there’ll be something involving cheese, bacon, or some kind of pastry… sometimes all three. So naturally I like to have a few recipes for similar items in my repertoire for when I want to host my own delicious event.

This particular recipe was born out of the need to come up with something that I could make ahead of time and that would be able to survive for several hours in a hot car before being served at a casual barbecue. That meant most cheese- or meat-based items were out, and any fresh vegetables were similarly not going to work. I decided that the best option was something with puff pastry, and once I noticed the half-empty package of fresh baby spinach slowly wilting in my refrigerator, the decision was made!

These perfectly poppable puffs are filled with a mixture of spinach and four cheeses. The cheeses are rich and creamy, the lemon zest adds freshness, and the spinach is enough to make it seem almost kind of healthy. Or not so healthy. But they’re tasty all the same! Best of all, they were just fine the following day (after sitting in a car for several hours) and only needed a few minutes in the toaster oven to re-crisp the edges. My recipe made 48, and every one of them disappeared!

Spinach Cheese Puffs

Makes 48

1 package puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farms)

5 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves (or chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained)

4 oz. cream cheese

4 oz. ricotta

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or fontina cheese

3 tbs. grated parmesan (the stuff in the green can is fine)

1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg for egg wash

1. Thaw puff pastry on the counter. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place spinach leaves in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water and cover. Microwave for 90 seconds until wilted. It will decrease drastically in size. Press water out with a fork and drain. Chop fine and set aside.

spinach-puffs-wilt

3. Combine remaining ingredients (except egg) in the bowl and mix until homogenous. Add spinach.

spinach-puffs-cheese

4. Lay one sheet of your puff pastry on a cutting board and roll out until it’s a few inches larger than it was originally. Cut into 24 small rectangles– the ones here are about 1 3/4″ by 2 3/4″.

5. Scoop a teaspoon of filling onto each rectangle and brush the edges with egg wash. Fold over and crimp three sides with a fork. Repeat with remaining sheet of puff pastry.

spinach-puffs-process

6. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and chill or freeze for 10-15 minutes.

7. Remove from the freezer and brush with beaten egg. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, until golden brown.

8. Serve hot, or allow to cool completely and store uncovered until ready to reheat the next day.

Notes:

1. If you have any extra filling, it makes a great dip, hot or cold. Unlike some savory pastry fillings it has no egg in it, you don’t have to worry about cooking it first!

2. I’ve also had success with assembling my puffs and then freezing them on a baking sheet (without egg wash) before sealing them in a plastic bag for future baking. When you’re ready to bake, just take them out of the freezer, lay them out on a foil-lined baking sheet, egg wash them, and then leave them to thaw just slightly while you preheat your oven. By the time the oven is hot they should be ready to bake– bake times may be a little longer, though, so keep an eye on them!

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