A hybrid of Greece's spanakopita and Lebanon's fattoush (a traditional salad), these hand-rolled cigars are emblematic of Maria Hines's new Seattle restaurant, Golden Beetle. The menu draws on Hines's love of the eastern Mediterranean's colorful spices and lively flavors. One such ingredient--and the secret to the cigar's earthy, citrus notes--is sumac, a tart spice once used in lieu of lemons. The spice is folded into the feta-spinach filling before the filling is rolled up in paper-thin phyllo, forming the perfect pre-entrée cigar.
Spinach Cigars with TzatzikiRecipe adapted from Maria Hines, Golden Beetle, Seattle, WA
Yield: 8 cigars
Cook Time: 50 minutes
1½ tablespoons finely diced seedless cucumber
½ teaspoons fresh garlic paste (from about 2 cloves garlic)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dill fronds (about 2), finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped yellow onion (about ¼ small onion)--finely diced, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
¾ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 cups baby spinach
½ cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots (about ½ medium shallot)
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill (about ½ frond)
2 teaspoons ground sumac (available at spice shops and at kalustyans.com)
Fresh lemon juice
4 sheets phyllo
4 tablespoon clarified butter
1. Make the tzatziki: In a medium bowl, fold the cucumber, garlic paste, cumin, dill, onion, olive oil and lemon juice into the yogurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Blanch the spinach for 10 seconds, then transfer to the ice bath. Remove the spinach and place in a clean towel, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Roughly chop the spinach and place in a medium bowl. Add the feta, shallots, garlic, dill, sumac and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper and fold to combine. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 400° and warm the clarified butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Cut the phyllo sheets into 6½-inch-wide strips. (Keep the sheets covered with damp towels until ready to use.) Place a sheet of phyllo on a cutting board and brush lightly with clarified butter. Place a second sheet on top and brush with butter. Place 1½ tablespoons of the reserved filling on one end, keeping ½ inch bare on each side. Carefully roll the filling in the phyllo about one-third of the way. Fold the sides inward and roll the rest of the way. Brush the cigar lightly with clarified butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the cigars on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the sheet and bake for 6 minutes longer or until the cigars are golden brown. Serve warm with tzatziki.
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